Ranking Member McCollum Floor Remarks on the Ukraine Security Assistance and Oversight Supplemental Appropriations Act

2023-09-28 18:22

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Ranking Member of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in regards to H.R. 5692, the Ukraine Security Assistance and Oversight Supplemental Appropriations Act:

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

The Speaker and this House have catered to the extreme right yet again, because they refuse to write a Defense bill that can get bipartisan support.

So here we are again debating Ukraine Security Assistance.

As I said during the rules debate, we debated this funding twice yesterday.

The Biggs Amendment was rejected by the House in a vote of 104 to 330.

The Gaetz Amendment was rejected 93 to 339.

We debated it when the House considered similar amendments on the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this summer.

At that time, the Greene Amendment was rejected in a vote of 89 to 341.

And the Gaetz Amendment was rejected 70 to 358.

These amendments were rejected because a majority of this House stands for preserving democracy.

We stand for working with our democratic allies to prevent Vladimir Putin from seizing land through force.

And these amendments were rejected because of the strong, bipartisan support for including consistent funding for Ukraine in the base Defense bill.

The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, has been a part of the base bill since Fiscal Year 2015.

This support has included training for Ukrainian troops, munitions, spare parts for vehicles and weapons systems, and medical supplies.

The Department of Defense has mechanisms in place to monitor our assistance.

That is the work of the DoD’s  Security Assistance Group – Ukraine.

I’ve traveled with Subcommittee Republicans and Democrats to review how we are training and equipping the Ukrainians, because I agree – Congressional oversight is important.

The funding has been critical to ensuring that Ukraine could withstand Vladimir Putin’s invasion last year.

Congress began this support after Russia’s unprovoked and illegal seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Five different Chairs of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee across both parties have consistently included this funding in the base Defense appropriations bill.

That includes Chairman Calvert, myself in the last Congress, and Chairwoman Granger when she Chaired the Subcommittee.

We included this funding because Vladimir Putin is a bully.

He threatens not just Ukraine, but global stability.

Putin uses paramilitary groups like the brutal Wagner organization to destabilize African nations – using murder, rape, and torture to achieve his foreign policy goals.

In February of 2022, Putin wanted to take all of Ukraine, and overthrow its democratically elected government.

Russia deliberately fires cruise missiles into apartment buildings, shopping malls, schools, daycares, and even hospitals.

Putin is a war criminal, and he must be confronted.

That is why the Congress has consistently included this funding as a priority in the base bill.

To help Ukraine fight back against this illegal, unjust invasion of their territory.

It’s important we, along with our allies, continue to support their fight for freedom.

The rest of the world is watching, including other authoritarian nations, as to how the U.S., NATO, and other allies continue to support Ukraine.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.


118th Congress