“It’s not clear why we are standing in the way,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, told CNN about the US position that it would not be appropriate to send Poland planes so that it could transfer its own aircraft to Ukraine.
Inside the hearing, Shaheen pushed further, telling administration officials it was “disappointing” to see them so reluctant to lend air support.
“It’s coming across as indecision and bickering among members of the administration, which is not helpful to the cause and not helpful to the administration,” she said.
The public airing of frustrations underscores the tension over how to respond to a war that the US has flatly said it will not enter because Ukraine is not a member of NATO and doing so would risk a broader war between Russia and NATO. The US and other NATO countries have provided weapons like anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, but the Biden administration has drawn the line at steps that some lawmakers have advocated for, such as a no-fly zone, which US officials warn could put the US military in the position of shooting down Russian planes.
One Democratic lawmaker told CNN that the response to date in Congress overall has been quite unified, especially given how the two parties in the House have been at each other’s throats for the past year. Now that the easy moves to punish Russia have been taken, the lawmaker noted, there’s going to be a natural tension between the White House and members of Congress, who don’t “really need to worry so much around the particulars of jets flying from Ramstein into Russian-controlled airspace.”
“It is the White House’s job to think seriously about that,” the lawmaker said.
Even some of the President’s closest allies have signaled they’d like to do more to help Ukraine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during her weekly news conference Wednesday that while she wasn’t a military expert, she hoped the administration would find a way to help boost Ukraine’s air power after she spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Myself, when I see those tanks, that 40 miles of tanks, I’d like to take out those tanks. I mean, I think that having more planes might be useful, but I’m not a military strategist,” she said. “I hope that we can get to a place where the MiGS, which are the kinds of planes they have been depending on, can go to Ukraine, the F-16s especially if you have an excess of them can go to Poland.”
Another Democratic lawmaker said the push from Capitol Hill can be useful even if the steps aren’t supported by the Biden administration, noting that both the US and European countries have taken steps in response to Russia’s attacks that had seemed impossible just days before they happened: Germany froze Source: Bipartisan pressure mounts for US to do more in Ukraine amid frustration over Polish jets