Almost Half of Americans Think U.S. Spending Too Much on Ukraine Aid, Ap-norc Poll Says

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As lawmakers in Washington weigh sending billions more in federal support to Kyiv to help fight off Russian aggression, close to half of the U.S. public thinks the country is spending too much on aid to Ukraine, according to polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Those sentiments, driven primarily by Republicans, help explain the hardening opposition among conservative GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are rebuffing efforts from President Joe Biden to approve a new tranche of Ukraine aid, arguing that the money would be better spent for domestic priorities.

Yet opposition to aid is down slightly from where it was a month ago in another AP-NORC poll. Now, 45% say the U.S. government is spending too much on aid to Ukraine in the war against Russia, compared with 52% in October. That shift appears to come mostly from Republicans: 59% now say too much is spent on Ukraine aid, but that’s down from 69% in October.

Nonetheless, the Republican resistance to continued Ukraine aid remains strong.

“I understand the citizens need help, but I feel like we’re spending way too much money on Ukraine when we have our issues here, on our own soil, that we need to deal with,” said Eric Mondello, 40, from Fountain, Colorado. Pointing to needs such as health care for veterans and homelessness in communities, Mondello added: “I understand the U.S. has been an ally to others, but I feel like, let’s take care of our people first.”

More than one-third (38%) of U.S. adults say that current spending is “about the right amount,” which is up slightly from last month (31%). Among Republicans, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) say the current spending is about right, up from 20% last month.

Paula Graves, 69, is among those who says the amount of spending for Ukraine is the right amount.
“Putin, he’s straight up evil. I don’t think there should be any question in anyone’s mind,” said Graves, of Clovis, California. “He’s a dictator. He’s infringed on human rights, he’s a very scary person and if Ukraine falls to him, who’s next? What country’s next?”

Graves, who says she is not affiliated with a political party but leans more conservative, said she believes the U.S. has a leadership role on the global stage and added: “I think we definitely need to put America first, but I don’t think that needs to be first and only.”

The White House has been repeatedly pressing lawmakers to pass Biden’s nearly $106 billion emergency spending package that he proposed in October, which includes more than $61 billion specifically for the war in Ukraine. The rest of Biden’s request has aid for Israel as it battles Hamas, money for various priorities in the Indo-Pacific region and additional resources to help manage migration at the southern border.

On Ukraine, the Biden administration is increasingly warning that the well of aid is running dry. In an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Ukraine’s effort to defeat Russian forces “matters to the rest of the world” and pledged that U.S. support would continue “for the long haul.”

That message was reinforced at the White House.

“As President Biden has said, when aggressors don’t pay a price for their aggression, they’ll cause more chaos and death and destruction,” John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told the White House press briefing Monday. “They just keep on going, and the cost and the threats to America and to the world will keep rising.”

But Congress has rebuffed the White House efforts at bolstering Ukraine support at least twice in recent months. First, it ignored a roughly $40 billion supplemental request before a Sept. 30 funding deadline. Then last week, it passed a stopgap funding measure that keeps the government operating through early next year, but with no additional Ukraine aid.

In the Senate, a small bipartisan group is working on legislation that would combine fresh Ukraine assistance with stricter border measures to address concerns from Republicans that the U.S. was focused on needs abroad at the expense of issues closer to home. A broad majority of senators remains supportive of Ukraine aid, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., being one of the most stalwart supporters despite the isolationist strain in his party.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said lawmakers will continue to work on the Ukraine-border package over the Thanksgiving break and won’t wait until mid-January — when Congress faces another government funding deadline — to act on Ukraine.

The big question mark is in the House, where still-new Speaker Mike Johnson — who had voted against Ukraine aid as a rank-and-file conservative — has spoken broadly of the need to counter Russian aggression yet faces unruly GOP lawmakers who have shown more hostility to continued support for Kyiv.

Johnson, too, is insisting that additional Ukraine aid be paired with tougher border measures, although it is far from certain that any immigration agreement that clears the Democratic-led Senate could pass the GOP-controlled House.

Half of U.S. adults are extremely or very concerned that Russia’s influence poses a direct threat to the United States. Democrats (53%) and Republicans (51%) are similarly concerned about Russian power – but Democrats are more likely than Republicans to see Ukraine as a nation of shared values to the U.S. and to support more aid for Ukraine.

About half of the public (48%) endorses providing weapons to Ukraine (57% among Democrats, 42% among Republicans). About 4 in 10 favor sending government funds directly to Ukraine (54% for Democrats, 24% for Republicans).

Americans have grown slightly more likely to say the U.S. should take “a less active role” in solving the world’s problems, compared with a September poll from AP-NORC and Pearson. Slightly fewer than half (45%) now say the U.S. should be less involved, up from 33% in September. Just 16% of Democrats now say the U.S. should take a more active role, down from 29% in September.

Peter Einsig, a Republican from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said he still believes the U.S. has a role to play abroad, but that he remains concerned about excessive government spending and federal debt.

Yet Einsig said he would be more inclined to support aid to Ukraine if there were more oversight into how the money was being used abroad, as well as a timeline of how much longer the U.S. would be providing support.

“We don’t have transparency on where the money is really, really going,” said Einsig, 40. “It’s a big lump sum.”

Four in 10 U.S. adults say Ukraine is an ally that shares U.S. interests and values. That view is most common among Democrats (53%), who are much more likely than independents (28%), Republicans (29%) and Americans overall to see Ukraine as a nation with similar values and needs. About half of Republicans say Ukraine is a partner that the U.S. should cooperate with, but say it is not a nation that shares U.S. values.

Source: PBSO News Hour