Washington — Hours before House votes to approve this month $ 40 billion In military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, lobbyists from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank, have personally pressured the Republicans to oppose this measure.
In a move that has caught the attention of conservatives across Washington, Jessica Anderson, executive director of heritage lobbying, has issued a scorching statement.Ukraine aid package puts America last—It assembled the measure as reckless and careless.
“The United States is suffering from record inflation, debt, porous borders, crime and energy depletion,” Anderson said. “Washington progressives are prioritizing a $ 40 billion aid package to Ukraine.”
The Heritage Foundation’s position explains why 57 Republicans ultimately opposed the package at the party’s strongest opposition show in the party’s ranks against the deep support of Congress for Ukraine’s efforts to fend off Russia’s aggression. Helps to. It reflects the growing effectiveness of the “America First” impulse in the Republican Party and how thoroughly it has permeated the ideological leaders who shape the worldview of its policy.
And it previews the growing challenges faced by party leaders who have struggled to keep anti-interventionists away in the event of a prolonged war, and U.S. officials believe it will, and the Biden administration approves another tranche. I urged you to ask. Assistance in the coming months.
In an interview, the group’s president, Kevin Roberts, promised to “fight” a similarly structured bill “at every stage.”
This stance also reflects a major shift in the Heritage Foundation, an organization that conservatives have long regarded as an intelligent and policy guide.
For years, the group enthusiastically supported the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently advocated a hawkish foreign policy. Criticize President Barack Obama He “always” wants to “find the absolute lowest level of military power he can escape.”
But more recently, its lobbying department has defined President Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy and embraced the anti-interventionist enthusiasm that swept the Republican Party.
On Thursday, Roberts Podcast interview with Senator Josh Hawley Missouri, one of only 11 Senate Republicans who oppose the Ukrainian aid package, Recent editorial It was titled “No to Neoconservatism”.
“Neither you nor we intend to deny the heroism we have seen in Ukraine by opposing aid packages,” Roberts told Harley. “But I can at least talk about heritage and say,’I’ve done enough business as usual.'”
The organization’s core beliefs have long been based on promoting freelance enterprises, small government and strong national defense.But it is more and more Stopped the rise of populism At the party, first during the rise of the tea party, then during the Trump administration, Buy some of the most prominent members Of Mr. Trump’s cabinet Almost two-thirds of that idea was implemented Or was accepted by his White House during his first year in office.
“What surprised me very much about this moment was the legacy of being always strict with Russia, strong with NATO, and guided by the mantra,” What will Reagan do? ” He went in a very strange direction. ” Eric Sayers, who is currently a non-resident of the American Enterprise Institute and started his career as a junior staff member at Heritage, said.
According to Sayers, the move reflects the superiority of organizations that “more populist forces focused on following rights rather than leading them.”
Roberts, who called himself a “neoconservative recovery” in an interview, said the heritage attitude towards aid packages was “a true skepticism between conservative grassroots for established conservative foreign policy leadership. “It reflects.
According to him, the country’s financial situation “forces us as a movement to determine that there are many heroic people around the world who have to rely on the resources of other countries. It involves the United States. It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t, but we don’t have to be too involved. “
His argument is behind many of the policies Mr. Trump advocated when NATO’s allies complained that they weren’t spending enough on shared defense costs and claimed the footprints of smaller U.S. forces around the world. It was the same as the one.
This is the position that more and more conservative groups are taking. The Citizens for Renewing America, an organization led by Mr. Trump’s former budget director Russell Vought, has lobbyed against the latest Ukrainian aid measures. Saying “The United States is on the hook to increase its involvement in the war for the rest of President Biden’s term,” he said.Mr. Voto Lobbying against Recognize Finland and Sweden to NATO.
So is Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the Koch network. Called it “The mistake that Congress will quickly track another large aid package to Ukraine when the Biden administration repeatedly sends confused mixed signals about the desired final state in Ukraine.”
However, while these groups have long bet against deeper American involvement in what they consider to be unwise military missions abroad, the heritage stance is more recent.
In the months leading up to the vote on the Ukrainian aid bill, heritage policy experts argued that they supported the active US role in conflict, including huge aid. According to one report The United States said, “We must ensure that its large-scale humanitarian response helps Ukrainians survive the war of aggression in Russia.”
Russia-Ukraine War: Significant Progress
Another report, Announced in April, declared as follows: In many respects, the long-term stability of the transatlantic community is determined in Ukraine. The United States must act accordingly. “
James Walner, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, who previously led policy research at the Heritage, said the disagreement between the tone of the report and the group’s opposition to the aid bill reflects the situation in think tanks. Politics, not policy principles, begins to drive decisions.
“I always raise the question of what happens when this grassroots army you are creating goes against policy research,” Walner said in an interview. “Are you just doing what the grassroots army wants? If so, are you still a public policy organization doing cutting-edge research? I don’t think you can have both at the same time. I think that is an issue. “
Top officials in the organization claim that there was no shift.
Anderson said the Democratic Party “set between helping the great people of Ukraine and addressing the long list of concerns we have here in the United States.” “
“We are not in the crowd of isolatedists,” Anderson said. “There has never been a legacy, but we believe it is perfectly rational to express caution and concern, and we have so many members repeated those reservations. Is really encouraging. “
Roberts argued that heritage was still guided by the “Reagan Principles of Peace by Power” and said think tanks would have supported a narrowly tuned aid package to provide weapons to Ukrainians.
In an interview with Harley, Roberts said, “What I’ve found frustrating in all the commentary over the last few weeks is that somehow we’re dishonest at the southern border. Wall? Why can’t we deal with the problem at home? “People interpreted it as meaning that we were inventing an excuse to oppose the Ukrainian bill. It seems like a terrible and legitimate criticism not only to the world of think tanks, but also to the average American. “
But he also said that heritage stance reflects a broader “evolution of the movement” that “needs to be more cautious about the more limited resources that can be devoted to foreign policy.” I admitted.
When Roberts was elected to lead the heritage in October, he An editorial laying out his vision For think tanks, part of his job was “opening the movement to the fresh American air and the people we are trying to serve.”
“It’s the work of the conservatives inside the beltway to better connect with the conservatives outside the beltway,” Roberts wrote. “Not the other way around.”