Top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees said President Joe Biden’s surprise “photo op” in Ukraine on Monday is not a sufficient response and said the U.S. needs to send more lethal aid to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia.
“It’s good President Biden visited Ukraine, but a photo op isn’t enough,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the House committee. “He needs to get Ukraine the weapons they need to win now, especially ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System), instead of slow-rolling them.”
The top Republican on the Senate committee, Jim Risch of Idaho, agreed that more lethal force is needed and called on Biden to send fighter aircraft.
“I hope POTUS’ visit to #Kyiv will be followed with action – including quickly sending F-16s to Ukrainian forces. We must demonstrate that the U.S. remains committed to helping #Ukraine defend itself against #Russia’s violent aggression,” Risch stated in a tweet Monday.
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ATACMS is a 190-mile range missile that would far outperform the artillery currently in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s arsenal, which have a range of about 50 miles.
But last week, the Biden administration announced it would not be sending ATACMS to the front lines in Ukraine because doing so would reduce the U.S. military stockpile to a level that would affect military readiness. But some military experts say that excuse from the White House is “weak.”
“ATACMS is fired by rocket artillery systems that have already been transferred to Ukraine,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner on Saturday. “Modern variants of the missile have a 500-pound warhead and 300-kilometer range, well beyond the 85-kilometer range of Ukraine’s current Western-supplied rockets,” the group said.
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“The bottom line is that there are still thousands left in U.S. and allied stockpiles,” the group said.
The Biden administration’s refusal to send Ukraine F-16s and ATACMS comes even after bipartisan calls to do so.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, including Reps. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sent a letter to the White House to ask Biden to “provide Ukraine with increased air superiority capability, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft requested by [Kyiv], or similar fourth-generation aircraft, as soon as possible.”
“We believe providing Ukraine with fourth generation fighter aircraft represents a sound strategic investment in bolstering [Kyiv’s] military capability and bringing this conflict to a just conclusion,” they said.
This month, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken in support of sending ATACMS and fourth-generation aircraft to Ukraine.
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House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
The comments from the top GOP lawmakers are out of step with other Republicans who on Monday rebuked Biden for his trip to the war-torn region instead of visiting East Palestine, Ohio, where a recent train derailment led to a major leak of toxic chemicals.
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