Republicans Vying To Replace GOP Sen. Mitt Romney Reveal Position On Foreign Aid Package Ahead Of Key Vote


Photo: Alamy | Originally published by Mary Lou Masters at Daily Caller News Foundation

Several Republican candidates running for outgoing GOP Sen. Mitt Romney’s seat came out against Congress’ sprawling foreign aid package in statements to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday.

GOP Utah Rep. John Curtis, who is the current frontrunner for the race, already voted to advance the legislation on Saturday that would provide $60.8 billion in aid to Ukraine, as well as billions more in assistance for Israel and Taiwan. Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and political consultant Carolyn Phippen told the DCNF they wouldn’t vote for the foreign aid package if they were serving in the Senate today, citing concerns over funding foreign wars and the lack of border security provisions.

“I think it’s time we prioritize our own border over Ukraine’s,” Staggs told the DCNF in a statement. “At $34 trillion in debt we cannot continue being the world’s piggy bank.”

The legislative package, which is headed for a final vote in the Senate, provides $10 billion to Ukraine as an economic loan, as well as roughly $14 billion for weapons and at least $13.4 billion to replenish U.S. munition stocks.

Wilson also wouldn’t support the supplemental, telling the DCNF in a statement that “the bill needs more oversight.”

“We should not be handing out blank checks to foreign countries without accountability and the bill should have also been tied to increased border security,” said Wilson.

House Speaker Mike Johnson rolled out the legislation on Wednesday, breaking from his previous stance of supporting Ukraine aid only if it were tied to border security provisions. The speaker has since defended the package for having “much needed oversight.”

“The loan system itself is an innovation and allows for much-needed oversight. Otherwise, it would be a straight grant and no oversight,” Johnson’s office told the DCNF on Monday. “Every single dollar that goes to Ukraine for aid is now a loan. The other money goes to our own national security and replenishes our stockpile.”

Phippen, a former staffer for Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee, echoed her opponents’ sentiment, and argued that the legislation is “an atrocious ‘America Last’ deal.”

“Instead of securing our own border and protecting Americans, Congress is selling us out by prioritizing Ukraine,” Phippen told the DCNF in a statement. “We should be funding a border wall that protects our sovereignty, along with putting boots on the ground, implementing enhanced security measures, and re-implementing Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. If elected, I will not be putting other countries before our own.”

Curtis voted for each of the separate funding bills on Saturday, as well as the legislation cracking down on China and Iran, which included language that could lead to the eventual ban of TikTok.

“The United States must take decisive action abroad to prevent the worst-case scenario, allowing our adversaries in Russia, China, and Iran to bring chaos throughout the globe to the detriment of our national security. We don’t live in a bubble, and deterring our enemies is critical to prevent escalation of conflicts that impact our country,” Curtis said in a statement after the vote. “These bills support efforts of critical importance to the future of the United States and the world, all without putting a single American life in harm’s way. Sending aid now can save American lives later.”

Curtis did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request seeking further comment.

Brent Orrin Hatch, a Republican lawyer also running for Romney’s seat, also did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. However, the Republican released a statement on Wednesday ahead of the House vote where he was somewhat critical of providing additional aid to Ukraine.

“Expecting the U.S. to be the primary funder of the war in Ukraine is not leadership,” Hatch wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Leadership is setting an example AND getting other countries in the international community to meet their financial commitments to Ukraine.”

Polling has been scarce for the Republican primary since Romney announced he wouldn’t seek another term in September 2023, according to FiveThirtyEight’s compilation. A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics survey released in late January found Curtis leading the field with 18% support, followed by Hatch at 14%, Wilson at 8% and Staggs at 3%.

The seat is characterized by The Cook Political Report as in the “Solid R” category for 2024.

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