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Op-Ed: Risch, Fulcher Split on Ukraine Aid

By • December 20, 2023

Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher is not one of the most sought-after talking heads for TV network news programs. Fulcher does not serve on a high-profile committee, such as Foreign Affairs, and he doesn’t go out of his way to seek the spotlight.

But there he was, not long ago, appearing on ABC News to talk about – of all things – aid to Ukraine. And his talking points were in line with the thinking of House Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republicans.

“I was the congressional poster child,” he told me.

He probably received a few “atta boys” for his performance.

“I’m one of the Republicans who have a problem with sending a blank check to Ukraine,” he told ABC News.

His main reservations are twofold. The U.S. should be spending more of its efforts on the southern border, where there are about 12,000 crossings per day. Secondly, he said, President Biden has not effectively outlined the case for funding to Ukraine, or identified what constitutes victory.

“We’ve already spent $113 billion in resources to Ukraine, and we don’t know what the clear mission is,” he said. Without answers, “there’s going to be a problem getting support in the U.S. House. Until the president addresses those things – serious reform, serious attention to our southern border — it’s a deal-breaker. Until he gives significant clarity on what the mission is, and what he characterizes a win in Ukraine, it’s a showstopper.”

Fulcher is at odds with Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. No … there’s no big rift in the Idaho congressional delegation – it’s just a difference of opinion. Fulcher acknowledges that Risch makes compelling arguments for supporting continued aid to Ukraine. And Risch says Fulcher’s reservations are justifiable.

“I am not voting for a national security package that does not include the southern border,” Risch told me. “Our view is we need to shut down the border, and 49 (Republican) senators are locked into that. Our border needs to be taken care of before we talk about other borders, and Russ and I are in 100 percent agreement about that.”

Risch also agrees that Biden has not made a strong case for giving aid to Ukraine.

“It’s not just with that issue. His ability to articulate these things is fading by the day,” Risch said. “But I have an advantage. This is my lane. I have a clear vision of where we are and where we need to go, and I don’t rely on Joe Biden to lay out a path forward.”

There are legal reasons why the U.S. must provide aid, Risch said. In 1994, the U.S. signed an agreement with Ukraine that offered protection for the country if it would abolish its nuclear weapons.

“We gave our word, and now we need to keep our word.”

A second reason, he said, is “Putin is not going to stop with Ukraine” if he wins the war.

“If we end up in war with Russia, what we’re spending here is a drop in the bucket by comparison. I deal with this every day and it’s on my mind every day. The national security of the United States, the safety of the American people, the safety of Idahoans, depends not just on our army or weapons, or the people that operate them. It also depends upon the various defense agreements that we have around the world. If we abandon Ukraine and throw in the towel – as some would like us to do – that is going to drastically change how people view the United States, and how people rely on the United States and there will be major consequences.”

Getting out of Ukraine,

“I believe would set up the largest arms race that the planet has ever seen.”

In the end, Risch thinks the congressional support will be there. He estimates that of 100 senators, only about eight are opposed to aid.

“Maybe that number is closer to six. I don’t think opposition is growing. The same people who are opposing it have been skeptical all along. It’s true that they are more vocal.”

Risch was hoping that the issue would be resolved before Congress broke for the holidays, but he anticipates negotiations progressing more favorably when Congress returns in January.

We’ll see if his forecast holds up.


Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


This Op-Ed was submitted by Chuck Malloy. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: Border Crisis, Budget, Congressman Russ Fulcher, Foreign Relations, Joe Biden, National Security, Russia, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch, Southern Border, U.S. Congress, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin

9 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Risch, Fulcher Split on Ukraine Aid

  1. Russ Fulcher is correct, no more of Our tax dollars are to be spent enriching the pockets of globalists by way of money laundering via the Ukraine.

    Jim Risch has done many, many good things for Idaho, yet his old world perspective of WW2 does not allow him to see and/or willingly comprehend this money laundering scheme.

    This is a prime example of the need for term limits.

  2. Risch is ignoring the fact that Ukraine is the single most corrupt nation on the planet. The money that we’re shoveling over there is paying for 1/3 of their government and you know there are kickbacks in there to the Democrats. Tack on that Zelensky is a full-blown fascist who has imprisoned his political foes and cancelled elections and we should be removing our support – not giving them more.

    There’s also this teensy-tiny little problem called the US debt to consider as well…

  3. I wonder if Risch understands that when congress talks about border security that this means “better processing” of the people illegally entering the country and not stopping the invasion? The NDAA bill that he voted for also extended illegal FISA warrants to be used domestically. He can do a better job.

  4. What Rich said about our agreement is 100% true. Folks seem to think that it is ok to welch on our sworn deals as a nation just because someone doesn’t see things their way. No bueno!

    1. And when we can not keep all the agreements we have made and when the petro dollar dies, then what? No agreement should exceed our abilities or endanger our economy. Further it is all over but the shouting in Ukraine and the false meme of Putin wanting more is shown to be a hollow threat with no basis in reality. This country is failing and very likely to fall because of our ignorant sense of empire and world policeman hubris.

    2. America is financially bankrupt. We are funding Ukrainian oligarchs and the Ukraine pension system. Americans get the shaft. Larry Fink is lining up for rebuilding war torn Ukraine. The rich get richer.

  5. Foreign aid should be banned, but especially when we’re in debt. The people who want this war are the world’s wealthiest, let them buy the war with their money not bill kindergarten teachers and HVAC techs

  6. In 2014, Ukraine had a pro-Russian government. In February, 2014, protesters in Ukraine were able to topple that pro-Russian government. I wonder about what part the CIA had in that rebellion? Since then, Eastern Ukraine has sided with Russia and the rest of Ukraine with the European Union.

    This is a European problem and I fail to understand why, after 78 years since the end of World War 2, the United State has an obligation to defend Europe from itself. I think that it is time for Europe to solve its own problems. It is time to solve our own problems first.

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