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WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sought Sunday to tamp down speculation that the new GOP majority will be less likely to fund aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia, though he did suggest some members of his party may need to be convinced about the need to continue U.S. support.
"I think there's enough support on both sides of the aisle. Majority in the Democratic Party, majority in the Republican," Texas Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union," referring to aid to Ukraine. But he added, "We have to educate our members. I don't think they quite understand what's at stake."
"If Ukraine falls, Chairman Xi in China's going to invade Taiwan. It's Russia, China. Iran is putting drones in Crimea, and North Korea that is putting artillery into Russia. They have to understand the case. And they talk about the border, not mutually exclusive at all. We can do both. We're a great country. We can walk and chew gum at the same time," McCaul said.
Before capturing the House speakership, Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in October that Republicans might pull back funding for Ukraine if they took the House majority. But after making those comments, the GOP leader worked behind the scenes to reassure national security leaders in his conference that he wasn't planning to abandon Ukraine aid and was just calling for greater oversight of any federal dollars.
But McCarthy is working with an incredibly thin majority, and senior congressional Republicans who support robustly funding Ukraine are watching warily as more isolationist-minded colleagues have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks that they will heavily scrutinize — if not outright oppose — U.S. money for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reached a critical moment. Time is winnowing for the U.S. and its allies to send more powerful weapons and to train Ukrainian soldiers how to use them before the second, possibly decisive, year of the war, which could see Russia launch a ferocious new offensive.
In recent days, the Biden administration has been engaged in standoff with Germany over whether to send tanks to Ukraine.
German officials have indicated they won't send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so, unless the U.S. also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv — something the Pentagon has said for months it has no intention of doing given the logistical costs of maintaining them.
McCaul on Sunday suggested the United States should send the M1 Abrams tank to Ukraine, calling it a "game changer."
Germany, he said, "won't put one tank in until we give them reassurances we're going to put our Abrams in. If we did that publicly, that would unleash so many Leopard tanks, because there are 10 other nations that are looking for Germany to sign off on the tanks that they have given them."