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House GOP grows skeptical on Ukraine: ‘It’s not just the Freedom Caucus’ on September 15, 2023 at 9:30 am

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Skepticism is growing among House Republicans on the approval of more Ukraine funding as Congress faces its first test on America’s role in the war against Russia.

The House could face a vote as soon as this month as the Senate looks to fold a Ukraine aid package into a continuing resolution that would push back the deadline for a potential government shutdown.

While a minority wing of far-right lawmakers have long opposed more Ukraine funding, several GOP lawmakers told The Hill this week that more moderate House Republicans are also raising concerns.

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“It’s not just the Freedom Caucus; I think there’s a lot of people that are concerned with funding,” said Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I think it all depends on what’s in the bill.”

McClain said she wanted Congress to focus the spending bills on keeping the federal government running and on domestic crises like the recent wildfires in Hawaii.

“We have the appropriations bills right that we need to get out,” she said. “That is super critical. But also what I’m more concerned about is disaster relief for the United States. That’s what our focus is on right now.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said he would not support a new Ukraine package and doubted any Ukraine funding would be moving to the floor anytime soon.

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But he was hesitant to say the opposition would ultimately have enough votes to stop approval of Ukraine aid.

“We’ve got a lot of war hawks in Congress,” he said, “so I’m not sure.”

Though the Republican opposition to U.S. military support for Ukraine has steadily grown over the past year and a half of the war — both in Congress and among voters — a majority of the GOP caucus and almost all Democrats have overwhelmingly passed previous spending packages for Kyiv. 

But the next vote on Ukraine aid will be the first on a major package since Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) took the gavel promising no more “blank checks” to Ukraine. 

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The uneasiness in the House comes as the Senate plans to include Ukraine funding in a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded as annual appropriations bills are worked out. 

If the House refuses to pass a CR with the Ukraine funding attached, it could be punted to later this year and attached to other spending bills or considered on its own. 

Punchbowl News reported this month that McCarthy does not want Ukraine funding in a CR but will move to pass it as a separate supplemental — but only if he wins additional funding for the border.

Congressional action is in response to President Biden’s August request for $24 billion to support Ukraine, including $13 billion in security assistance. Biden included the request as part of a $40 billion package that includes disaster relief funds.

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The House is also ensnared in an impeachment inquiry into Biden, which may impact the spending talks. 

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), an Armed Services Committee member, said the House has “a lot of other issues ahead” of Ukraine funding. 

“Additional funding for Ukraine is going to be difficult to sell to the American people because every day that we go on fewer Americans support the war in Ukraine,” she said.

A CNN poll in August found a majority of Americans, 55 percent to 45 percent, oppose more aid to Ukraine, though that is split on party lines. About 71 percent of Republican respondents said the U.S. should not provide additional funding, according to the poll, while 62 percent of Democrats back more funding. 

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Other polls, including a Reagan Institute poll over the summer, have indicated stronger support. An August Fox News poll found a growing number of Americans were skeptical of backing Ukraine but the plurality, or 40 percent, said support should stay the same.

The debate comes at a critical moment for Ukraine, which is struggling to gain ground in its counteroffensive launched earlier this summer and will need a steady supply of weaponry and equipment to stay in the fight.

Congress approved $113 billion in total aid for Ukraine last year, about $47 billion of which translated directly to supporting Ukraine’s military needs. 

But that pool of money is running out fast. It’s unclear how much money is left exactly because of the Pentagon’s massive accounting errors, but publicly available data shows about $44 billion has been spent so far, leaving just a few billion left. 

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It’s not only Democrats who are pressuring the House GOP to get on board with new funding. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor this month that skeptics of Ukraine aid were making “faulty arguments,” arguing the war was worth funding.

“Standing with our allies against [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is directly and measurably strengthening the U.S. military,” he said. “Our support to Ukraine is grinding down one of America’s biggest strategic adversaries.”

Since taking over the House in January, there has been a persistent fear among Ukraine’s supporters that Republicans will stymie more aid.

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That bubbled to the surface in July, when 70 Republican lawmakers supported a failed bid to insert an amendment in a draft version of the annual defense bill that would have cut off all U.S. military funding to Ukraine.

Republican presidential candidates such as entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former President Trump are also giving voice to the growing skepticism showing up in polls. 

There’s also concern that Ukraine could be a casualty of McCarthy’s fraught relationship with the Freedom Caucus, which released a list of demands in August in order for members to back the spending bills. One of those positions was outright opposition to “any blank check for Ukraine in any supplemental appropriations bill.”

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), a Freedom Caucus member, said he was hopeful McCarthy would keep Ukraine funding off the floor entirely. 

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“We have other things that we need to resolve,” he said. “ The House needs to stay focused on funding the government.”

Davidson wrote Thursday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that he will oppose any future aid package to Ukraine “until the Biden administration provides Congress with a clear mission” in the war.

The Biden administration maintains that it has been clear on its goals in Ukraine.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that he doesn’t “know how many times I’ve answered this question in the last year and a half.”

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“We want to see Ukraine succeed on the battlefield. We want to see them get all their territory back. We want to see their sovereignty respected,” Sullivan said. “We want to see no Russian troops inside Ukraine. We want to see the war end.” 

“And it could end today, obviously, if Mr. Putin would do the right thing and just get the hell out,” he added. “That’s clearly not going to happen right now.”

​ Skepticism is growing among House Republicans on the approval of more Ukraine funding as Congress faces its first test on America’s role in the war against Russia. The House could face a vote as soon as this month as the Senate looks to fold a Ukraine aid package into a continuing resolution that would push… 

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TikTok Sues US Gov’t

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TikTok is suing the US government to stop the enforcement of a bill that seeks to force the app’s Chinese owner to sell the app or face a ban. The lawsuit argues that the bill violates constitutional protections of free speech and is an “unprecedented violation” of the First Amendment.

Visit of Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, to the European Commission

Background

  • The bill, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, was passed last month.
  • The lawsuit was filed in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, DC.
  • TikTok argues that the bill is a permanent, nationwide ban on a single speech platform and restricts free speech without sufficient reason.

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Government Response

  • The Department of Justice has not commented on the lawsuit.
  • A White House spokesperson directed a request for comment to the Justice Department.
  • John Moolenaar, chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, stated that TikTok poses a grave risk to national security and the American people.

Legal Proceedings

  • The lawsuit is expected to add to an already lengthy timeline for a potential ban or sale of the app.
  • ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owner, already had over a year to make a move, and legal proceedings will pause the timeline, meaning it could be years before a ban goes into effect.

TikTok’s Efforts

  • TikTok has made efforts to assure the public and US officials that it takes data security seriously.
  • In 2022, the company started “Project Texas,” a move meant to provide data security and transparency around the information the app collects about US users.

Conclusion

  • The lawsuit states that Congress has not offered any evidence suggesting that TikTok poses data security risks or foreign propaganda spread that could justify the law.
  • TikTok claims the law violates the right to due process under the Fifth Amendment and is an unconstitutional bill of attainder.

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Universal Music Group & TikTok Partner in New Licensing Agreement

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In a monumental move, Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok have announced a pioneering licensing agreement that will transform the music landscape. This historic deal unites UMG’s vast music catalog with TikTok’s massive user base, unlocking unprecedented opportunities for artists, songwriters, and fans worldwide.

Visit of Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, to the European Commission

A New Era for Music Consumption and Monetization

The agreement marks a significant milestone in the UMG-TikTok relationship, allowing users to once again create videos featuring music from global superstars and emerging talent. The deal also paves the way for innovative monetization opportunities, with TikTok investing in artist-centric tools and campaigns to support UMG artists across genres and territories globally.
A Shared Commitment to Valuing Music and Creativity
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, and Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok, hailed the agreement as a “new chapter” in their partnership, built on a shared commitment to promoting the value of music, human artistry, and the welfare of the creative community.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG on the left of the photo.

Addressing Generative AI Concerns
The deal also tackles concerns around generative AI, with TikTok committing to work with UMG to ensure that AI development in the music industry protects human creativity and the economics that flow to artists and songwriters.
Deeper Connections and Responsible AI Development
Ole Obermann, TikTok’s Global Head of Music Business Development, emphasized that the agreement will “create deeper connections between artists, creators, and fans” and ensure that AI tools are developed responsibly to enable a new era of musical creativity and fan engagement.
Transformational Partnerships and Advancements
Michael Nash, Chief Digital Officer and EVP of UMG, welcomed the renewed relationship with TikTok, citing the potential for “transformational partnerships” and “significant advancements” in commercial and marketing opportunities, as well as protections for UMG’s industry-leading roster.
A Win for the Music Industry
This groundbreakingagreement is a major victory for the music industry, which has long sought to strike a balance between promoting artistic creativity and protecting the rights of artists and songwriters in the digital age. With UMG and TikTok working together, the possibilities for innovation and growth are endless, and fans can look forward to enjoying music from their favorite artists in new and exciting ways.
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House of Lords to Host Nigerian Innovators

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Clean Cyclers, alongside Sustainability Unscripted and other sustainability partners, is gearing up to host the 3rd Edition of the Global Sustainability Summit in the United Kingdom. Scheduled for March 28 – 29, 2024, at the prestigious House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster, the summit aims to raise awareness, promote collaboration across disciplines, tackle global challenges with local solutions, and advocate for social equity.

Canon Otto, the organizer and founder of Clean Cyclers, emphasized the summit’s commitment to inclusivity, prioritizing climate action, environmental stewardship, and identifying policy pathways for sustainable development. Under the theme “Advancing Sustainability, a Journey Towards a Greener Future,” the summit will gather leading visionaries, experts, innovators, and change-makers from global corporations, organizations, and government agencies to brainstorm strategies for adopting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability Businessman Otton Canon

The summit will feature panel sessions addressing urgent topics such as climate action, circular economy, renewable energy revolution, sustainable cities, biodiversity conservation, green finance, sustainable agriculture, and climate justice. Additionally, it will recognize and celebrate companies, governments, organizations, and individuals demonstrating commitment to sustainability through practical initiatives and the realization of short-term objectives and long-term goals.

In a statement, the organizers highlighted the broad spectrum of sustainability practices, policies, and innovations aimed at mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity, protecting natural resources, and promoting social equity. The theme “Advancing Sustainability” underscores the need for a shift from short-term exploitative approaches to long-term regenerative ones, reflecting humanity’s ability to learn, adapt, and innovate.

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The summit aims to foster knowledge exchange, collaboration, and actionable solutions over two days of physical gathering at the House of Parliament in London. Participants will explore diverse perspectives, share knowledge, and work together to shape strategies that drive meaningful change and accelerate progress towards a sustainable future.

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