Republican candidates in Iowa say more control over aid to Ukraine is needed

The three Republicans running in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district sparred in a live televised debate on Saturday against a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine without increased scrutiny of those funds.

Businesswoman Nicole Hasso of Johnston, retired farmer and activist Gary Leffler and State Senator Zach Nunn of Bondurant are all vying for the Republican Party nomination, and they have made their case directly with Iowans as early voting is set to kick off this week. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic incumbent U.S. Representative Cindy Axne in November.

Democratic President Joe Biden has called for increased aid to Ukraine as it battles to repel a Russian invasion. A $40 billion aid package passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week, passing by a landslide 368 to 57 votes. The four representatives from Iowa, including three Republicans and a Democrat, voted to endorse the package.

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But the legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., demanded leaders appoint a federal watchdog to oversee his spending. Republican and Democratic leaders had been united in their intention to move aid forward quickly.

Saturday’s debate moderators asked the three candidates if they think there should be a limit on the amount of money the United States sends to Ukraine.

Hasso, who works in the financial services industry, responded first.

“You know, I really believe there’s a limit the United States should have when it comes to sending aid to Ukraine,” she said. “Right now we have a supply chain problem. And our mothers are trying to feed their babies. We need oversight. What are they doing with that money? What’s in this bill? Why are we sending them money? to be accountable.”

Moderators asked Hasso if she had a number in mind for when to cut aid. Hasso said: “This bill is enough.

“We have to take care of America first,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with putting America first.”

Leffler, who also worked in financial services, then responded, criticizing Washington, D.C. leaders who for a short time bought Russian oil while sending aid to Ukraine, he said. he declares. Biden has since banned the import of Russian oil.

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“So in essence, we were funding both sides of this conflict,” Leffler said. “And that’s how things go wrong in Washington.”

Like Hasso, he also seemed to suggest that domestic issues should take priority.

“How can we fund what is happening there if we say Ukraine’s security is more important than our own border? he said.

Nunn, who is a lieutenant colonel and commands the 233rd Intelligence Squadron, 132nd Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard, responded last. He did not say directly whether he would have backed the aid package, but he suggested monitoring is the most important issue going forward.

“I think there needs to be a check on any bill that provides additional funding to Ukraine,” he said. “Most importantly, we have the ability to deliver real weapons right now, not billions of US tax dollars to Ukraine. MiG-29s out of Poland, surface-to-air missiles from the states of Eastern Europe – that’s what the Ukrainians are asking for. Let’s give them that and let them protect their civilian population.”

This was the second televised debate featuring all three candidates. Early voting begins on Wednesday and the primary election is June 7.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the Register’s chief political reporter. Join her at or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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