NewsMitch McConnell sees Ukraine aid as one of the most important legislative...

Mitch McConnell sees Ukraine aid as one of the most important legislative victories of his career

WASHINGTON — For Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the monthslong fight over U.S. aid to Ukraine carried historical implications.

Last year, Ukrainian forces were successfully holding off Russian advances but were in desperate need of new weapons, ammunition and supplies. President Joe Biden sent an urgent request to Congress for a new round of aid to the war-torn country, and McConnell, R-Ky., immediately got on board.

But he faced a major obstacle: The loudest voices in his own party had suddenly developed a new opinion about whose side they were on.

“It was a family fight from the beginning,” McConnell said Wednesday in an interview. “This was a Republican issue; it was a family fight. And that’s where the action was on Ukraine, on our side.”

From McConnell’s perspective, winning over the reluctant faction of the GOP is among one of the most significant legislative victories of a congressional career that has spanned decades.

“Well, I think certainly one of the most important issues I’ve been involved in over all these years,” McConnell said before pausing. “And if you look at it from a worldwide point of view you could argue that it is the most important.”

Throughout his career McConnell shepherded deregulation legislation and Republican tax cuts through the chamber, and last year he became the longest-serving leader of a party in Senate history.

McConnell also made one of the most consequential decisions of his career in 2016, when he decided to deny then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a confirmation hearing or a vote. The decision resulted in Donald Trump’s drastically changing the makeup of the court when he won the presidency, by placing three conservative justices on the court who issued the decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

About Ukraine, a U.S ally, McConnell firmly believes that the GOP base was swayed by the message of then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who opposed U.S. support for it.

“He had an enormous audience among rank-and-file Republicans and began to demonize Ukraine in ways that I felt just completely ignored the facts,” McConnell said. “But he had a big following. And we’re all in politics, I mean, so people begin to hear from their own Republican friends and supporters about this.”

McConnell also said Trump contributed to the harsh criticism of Ukraine. The combination of the two most popular voices among GOP voters disparaging Ukraine led congressional Republicans to follow suit, which forced pro-Ukraine Republicans to add a border package to the negotiations, a package they thought had bipartisan support to make it to Biden’s desk.

They were wrong.

“The former president said he would prefer that we not do anything at all,” McConnell recalled about the border provisions. “So that took several months.”

McConnell viewed the unfolding debate in the context of the lead-up to World War II. He said it worried him that the same isolationist tendencies that kept America on the sidelines until the attack on Pearl Harbor,

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