© Reuters. The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2023. REUTERS/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/File Photo
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday against an effort to tie military aid to Ukraine to NATO members’ defense spending, despite 13 Republicans backing the bid from Republican Senator Mike Lee to restrict U.S. aid to Ukraine.
The 100-member Senate opposed the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, by 71 to 13.
The amendment would have required that only 2% of the funds made available for Ukraine by the Department of Defense during fiscal 2024 be obligated or expended until every member of the NATO alliance spends at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.
The United States has sent more than $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022, including $1.3 billion President Joe Biden’s administration announced on Wednesday.
The assistance to Ukraine receives broad bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, which has control of government spending. But a small group of Republicans – many with close ties to former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump – has questioned that aid.
Republicans in the House of Representatives offered amendments to cut Ukraine aid when the Republican-led chamber considered its version of the NDAA last week. Those amendments were also defeated.
As he campaigned to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, Trump said he would ask Europe to reimburse the United States for the cost of restoring stockpiles of weapons that have been sent to Ukraine. He had said previously he would withdraw the United States from NATO if all 31 members do not spend 2% of their GDP on defense.