Senator Mitch McConnell put his standing on the line in aggressively pursuing military assistance for Ukraine over deep Republican resistance, and he achieved the outcome he wanted: a strong Senate vote to bolster embattled U.S. allies at a critical moment.
“History settles every account,” Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said in a statement issued early Tuesday, minutes after the Senate voted 70 to 29 for a $95 billion foreign aid package. “And today, on the value of American leadership and strength, history will record that the Senate did not blink.”
But his hard-fought legislative victory came at a cost.
The bitter Senate fight over the aid package — money that Mr. McConnell framed as essential to preserving Western power — exposed serious divisions among Senate Republicans not just over Ukraine and border security policy but over his leadership.
The fallout underscored Mr. McConnell’s waning influence over his party’s rank and file and raised new questions about his future. Though most of his chief critics had weighed in against him in the past, their complaints took on a bold new intensity as they openly called for his ouster and contended he was out of step with a majority of his colleagues, as evidenced by the fact that most Republicans opposed the bill.
“It stinks to high heaven,” Senator J.D. Vance, a freshman Republican from Ohio, declared on the Senate floor on Monday. “No one who watched this process unfold believes Republican leadership negotiated in good faith for border security or that Democrats did the same. It was always Kabuki theater.”
But Mr. McConnell, a traditional Reaganite interventionist on foreign policy, was determined to secure more money for Ukraine even though it put him on a collision course with many of his Republican members and former President Donald J. Trump, the party’s likely 2024 nominee.
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