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Members of ‘Putin’s Caucus’ on Capitol Hill still won’t budge

By most measures, Congress has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a bipartisan way. There are, however, some notable GOP exceptions.


By most measures, Congress has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a bipartisan way. Every measure that’s come up has passed, with the support of Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers. The parties may be further apart than at any point in modern American history, but not when it comes to this ongoing crisis.

To say there’s complete unanimity on supporting the United States’ allies in Ukraine, however, would be an overstatement.

As regular readers know, there’s a contingent within the House Republican conference that’s picked up some unflattering nicknames while balking at Ukrainian aid. Rep. Liz Cheney, for example, has labeled them the GOP’s “Putin wing.” The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called them the “GOP’s pro-Putin faction.” A Washington Post report added that these Republicans have formed “what some Democrats (and even critics on the right) have labeled ‘Putin’s Caucus.’”

Even now, the bloc won’t budge. The Hill reported late yesterday:

The House passed four bills on Wednesday that seek to rebuke Russia and Belarus and support Ukraine as Moscow’s invasion draws close to the three-month mark. The passage of the quartet of bills came one day after the House approved a $39.8 billion aid package for Kyiv, including billions of dollars in security assistance and millions for refugee support services.

First up was the Russia and Belarus Financial Sanctions Act, which mandates that entities owned by U.S. financial institutions can’t circumvent the sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Russia and Belarus. It passed 418 to 2 — and both of its opponents were Republicans.

It was soon followed by the Ukraine Comprehensive Debt Payment Relief Act, which calls for the suspension of Ukrainian debt payments during the war. It passed 362 to 56 — and all of its opponents were Republicans.

Next up was the Isolate Russian Government Officials Act, which calls for excluding Russian officials from international gatherings such as G-20 summits. It passed 416 to 2 — and both of its opponents were Republicans.

Finally, there was the Russia and Belarus SDR Exchange Prohibition Act, which is intended to block Russia’s and Belarus’ access to International Monetary Fund tools. It passed 417 to 2 — and both of its opponents were Republicans.

The only two members to oppose each of the four measures were Kentucky’s Thomas Massie and Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene. (The latter has been especially eager in recent months to echo Moscow’s rhetoric on the war.)

Yesterday’s votes came on the heels of the House approving a $40 billion Ukrainian aid package, which passed 368 to 57. If you’re assuming that all 57 opponents were Republicans, you’re correct.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, it was in March when this began in earnest. When the House voted overwhelmingly to ban oil imports from Russia, for example, 15 House Republicans opposed the measure. A week earlier, the House easily passed a non-binding resolution in support of Ukrainians, which three Republicans opposed.

Soon after, the House voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia, and that measure was opposed by only eight Republicans.

Last month, the House passed a bill directing the Biden administration to collect evidence of Russian war crimes, and only six Republicans opposed the measure. In late April, the House passed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, and 10 GOP members voted no.

The same week, the House passed a largely symbolic measure, pressing the White House to support Ukraine through confiscated Russian oligarchs’ assets, and four Republicans opposed it.

Not surprisingly, combing through the roll call votes, the names become familiar: Many of the GOP opponents of these bills voted no on multiple measures. But only one House member opposed literally every one of them: Thomas Massie.

The Kentucky Republican is perhaps best known for being derided by Donald Trump as a “third-rate grandstander,” though the former president endorsed his re-election this week.