Legislation introduced by Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) which calls on the White House to release documents related to the war in Ukraine passed a voice vote on Wednesday. With debate on the resolution divided along party lines, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to vote on the measure on Friday.
The bill, H.Res.300, would urge President Joe Biden to grant lawmakers access to “all documents indicating any plans for current or future military assistance to Ukraine,“ as well as any material “indicating whether any United States Armed Forces, including special operations forces, are currently deployed in Ukraine.”
Since Russia invaded its neighbor 14 months ago, Congress has authorized over $100 billion in aid for Ukraine. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Washington has provided $80 billion in military and financial aid throughout the conflict.
Though support for the resolution was limited to Republicans, it passed a voice vote and is set for a full committee vote on Friday. Several Democrats attacked the legislation during Wednesday’s debate.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) blasted the measure as “divisive and ill-advised,” claiming “It is a partisan political ploy, and the height of legislative irresponsibility that jeopardizes the national security of the United States, of our Europe allies and partners as well as the courageous Ukrainian people.”
Manning took issue with the resolution because it threatened a consensus in Congress that support for Kiev must be unwavering and indefinite. “The entire Congress has remained resolutely bipartisan for Ukraine as it fights against Russian aggression,” the lawmaker continued, adding “Measures like this put bipartisanship in jeopardy.”
She also asserted that the bill amplified Russian propaganda and claimed that reporting on legislation “favorably“ would be “irresponsible.”
“It plays directly into [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hands by seeking to force the disclosures of all present and future military plans,” Manning said. “Passage of this measure would represent a gift to Putin and his Kremlin cronies and provide visibility into the plans our military and intelligence leaders strive to protect at all costs.”
However, she failed to explain how increased congressional oversight for US military policy in Ukraine could actually help the Russians on the battlefield. Congressman Daryl Issa (R-CA) said any documents provided to the House would not be made public, and that “every bit of the information requested could be and would be held at the Select Intelligence Committee.”
Further, dozens of documents detailing weak points in Ukraine’s defenses were alleged to have been leaked by a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman over the course of several months on Discord.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said that it was not an appropriate time for transparency regarding the billions in US tax dollars pouring into Ukraine. “Timing matters when this committee actions,” he argued. “There will be a time in insisting [on oversight], but now is not that time.”
Congressman Cory Mills (R-FL) argued in favor of the resolution, saying it could prevent “mission creep,” referring to a phenomenon in which military or policy objectives gradually shift over time, often becoming vague, ill-defined or impossible to achieve. The concept was frequently used to describe the US occupation of Afghanistan, which began as a counterterrorism operation and later expanded into a sprawling, poorly supervised nation-building project.
Mills went on to say that the bill is not about preventing support for Ukraine or empowering Putin, but merely better oversight.
When Gaetz introduced H.Res.300 earlier this month, he emphasized transparency. “The Biden Administration and other allied countries have been misleading the world on the state of the war in Ukraine,” he said, calling for “total transparency from this administration to the American people when they are gambling war with a nuclear adversary by having special forces operating in Ukraine.”