Susan Wild calls out Republicans for holding up Ukraine aid

Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., speaks during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, to raise awareness of the sexual and gender-based violence Hamas perpetrated against women and children in Israel on and since October 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Bonnie Fuller

April 19, 2024

‘It’s not only shameful, but embarassing.”

That’s what US Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania) had to say about the Republican-led US House’s months-long refusal to approve military aid for Ukraine.

Wild specifically called out the “tiny minority of the 435 members of Congress” that have opposed aid, including far-right isolationist Republican representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

The House took a key step on Friday toward approving the legislation, with a broad bipartisan coalition voting 316-94 to approve a rule allowing for a formal vote on the aid package, which is expected to happen on Saturday.

The congresswoman, who has represented the 7th Congressional District since 2018, told The Keystone that she and many of her colleagues are “happy to stay through the weekend, even though everybody made other plans back home in their own district.

“But we are prepared to stay here until we get it done. We are prepared to back the Speaker on this.The president has already come out in favor of these packages,” Wild said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson will also present a bill for $26 billion in military aid to Israel and humanitarian relief to Gaza, as well as a bill for $8 billion in aid for military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ukraine running out of weapons amid GOP obstruction

However, it is the Ukraine aid that is most desperately needed, with Ukrainians reportedly running out of bullets and other military weapons on the battlefield. President Biden asked Congress to provide funding for Ukraine last October and the Senate passed a bipartisan bill providing foreign aid in February.

Wild is disgusted by the months-long Republican resistance and is disturbed by how the disregard for an allied country has hurt America’s reputation globally.

“We’re supposed to be the leader in the Free World and we’ve really done damage to our worldwide reputation as a friend and supporter of democracy,” she told The Keystone in an exclusive interview. “I have not traveled abroad this year, but my colleagues have told me that world leaders are asking them regularly, ‘can we count on you?’”

Action on supporting US allies remained frozen in the House thanks to rightwing lawmakers who threatened to remove Johnson as Speaker if he allowed members to vote for aid to Ukraine, even though most Democrats and Republicans support the idea.

In a highly unusual move, Democrats had to step in on Friday and provide support to overcome the resistance of ultra-conservative members of the House Rules Committee in order to allow for Ukraine aid to be voted on by the full House.

Wild wants Pennsylvanians to understand that protecting Ukraine — even if it is half a world away — is actually critical to them and their fellow citizens.

‘A huge part of my community’

Pennsylvania is home to more than 122,000 Ukrainian Americans—the second highest number in the US, with 60,000 alone in Philadelphia.

“They are a huge part of my community. We have eight Ukrainian churches in my district,” Wild pointed out. “For them and quite frankly for Eastern Europeans throughout Pennsylvania … it’s very, very important, the preservation of democracy and the preservation of their [ancestral] country.”

She also explained that if an aggressive Russia under leader Vladimir Putin, which launched an unprovoked attack on its democratic neighbor in Feb. 2022, is successful in conquering Ukraine, then Putin won’t stop attacking other neighboring countries.

“It’s very important for people to understand that Ukraine is the first — they’re the backstop for democracy in Europe.They butt up against Russia. And if Ukraine folds or is lost, then the rest of Eastern Europe will be very much at risk.”

The Congresswoman, who moved to Lehigh Valley to raise her two children, said her father, who served in the Air Force during World War II and the Korean War, would be “appalled” by Republican resistance to helping America’s democratic ally.

“My father was a Republican, but he was not this type of Republican. He was more of the traditional conservative Republican who would have been shocked that it’s come to this,” she explained.

“We fought for other countries in those wars, and it was a respected, commendable thing to do. We fought for ourselves as well. I think my father would want to shake some people in Congress and tell them that.”

She also wants to remind Pennsylvanians that this isn’t a war like her father fought in, where America had to have boots on the ground—it’s just providing support for the Ukrainians to defend themselves.

A case for optimism?

So is Wild optimistic then that the House will finally pass a Ukraine aid bill on Saturday?

“This is a tough Congress. I mean, I’m always optimistic, but this place has defied prediction.

Nevertheless, Wild, who is running for re-election this November, wants constituents to know that she has “plenty of colleagues from across the aisle who served with me on the Foreign Affairs Committee who are absolutely dying to get the Ukraine package through.”

However, she wishes that the infighting with the House Republicans over providing aid—including the threats to oust Speaker Johnson for allowing a vote on the bill—hadn’t been so public for months.

“It’s shameful—shameful that we have literally let this mess in Congress play out,” she said. “It’s like airing your dirty family laundry, right? Only on steroids, so that the whole world has been able to see.”

Author

  • Bonnie Fuller

    Bonnie Fuller is the former CEO & Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USWeekly and YM. She now writes about politics and reproductive rights.

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