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Texans in Congress call on Biden to increase support for Ukraine against Russia

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 18:20:46-05

Powerful congressional Texans urged President Joe Biden on Thursday morning to hold the line against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of that country’s invasion into Ukraine, an American ally.

At the outset of the astonishing Russian attack, none of these Texans who wield unique power in the realm of defense and foreign policy explicitly called for American troops on the ground in Ukraine.

But over and over, both Democrats and Republicans called for the president to continue to pressure Putin with sanctions and supported the increased armament of Ukraine.

“The time for diplomacy is over,” said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, adding that he has supported sending arms to the Ukrainians.

“This is the beginning of what we’re going to see as a resistance that will take place in Ukraine,” he added.

The state’s senators struck a similar tone.

“The United States has played no part in creating this crisis, but we have a responsibility to support the Ukrainian people as they fight to defend their own sovereignty,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz praised the Biden administration Wednesday for placing sanctions on a Putin-allied company that delivered Russian gas to Germany, long a point of contention he had with the administration.

In a tweet Thursday, he called Putin’s invasion an “unprovoked aggression” and an “existential threat.”

“Ukraine has America’s steadfast support & we will continue to arm them so they can defend their country. Those involved in this should know they’ll be held accountable,” he added.

Sophomore U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a Dallas Democrat, visited Ukraine several weeks ago with colleagues in anticipation of the war. In his own statement, he said the Biden administration “has ably navigated this Russian-made crisis.”

“I have personally seen and participated in the Administration’s extraordinary efforts to inform and gather our allies to this task over the course of weeks,” he added.

Some Republicans critiqued Biden, suggesting he should have moved harder and faster on sanctions. Freshman U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, a San Angelo Republican who served in the Air Force, said he “will be taking aggressive steps to demand that President Biden reverse course to finally impose crippling costs on Vladimir Putin and prevent further death and destruction in Ukraine.” Like McCaul and Allred, he serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a San Antonio Republican with a background as a Navy cryptologist, said in a statement that “Now is the time to tap into our cyber expertise and economic sanctions before further destruction occurs.”

U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, an Amarillo Republican, posted on Twitter a bat-signal-like photo in former President Donald Trump's image.

"WHERE IS JOE BIDEN!? Is he even AWAKE right now!? The absence of leadership from this White House is SICKENING! This war should’ve NEVER happened!" he wrote.

An hour after that tweet, Biden released a statement announcing he had been on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"President Zelenskyy reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking," Biden said, adding that he briefed the Ukrainian leader on forthcoming steps.

"We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," Biden added.

Beyond how to deal with Russia, McCaul offered up a striking historical observation.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since Hitler invaded Poland in World War II,” he said. “I just hope this is not the beginning of World War III.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/02/24/texas-congress-ukraine-russia/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.