By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, who won the Republican nomination to lead the House of Representatives on Friday, has voted against most aid to Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion and told reporters he would object to further aid if he became speaker.
The House has been without a speaker since Oct. 3, when eight Republicans joined Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy, the first time in U.S. history a speaker has been removed from the position.
McCarthy’s removal raised concerns about the future of aid to Ukraine, since many of his possible successors have opposed more assistance to Kyiv, in addition to the $113 billion already approved since Russia invaded in February 2022.
A majority of Republicans backed the hardline conservative Jordan in a closed-door meeting on Friday, but he appeared well shy of the 217 votes he would need to win the job in a final vote expected next week.
Republicans have a narrow 221-212 majority in the House, and many join Democrats in backing Ukraine aid, but the next speaker could quash more assistance before a proposal reaches the House floor if he opposed the idea.
Military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine is a priority of Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration.
A Ukraine “report card” by Defending Democracy Together’s “Republicans for Ukraine” campaign gave Jordan an “F very poor” rating for his past votes against Ukraine aid.
Jordan has told reporters he would not move forward with additional aid for Ukraine if elected speaker, saying, “The most pressing issue in Americans’ minds is not Ukraine. It is the border situation and crime on the streets.”
His office did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment.
Opponents of the assistance call the funds excessive spending or accuse Kyiv of corruptly failing to keep track of the money, which U.S. and Ukrainian officials deny.
McCarthy was ousted just three days after he led the House to pass a spending bill that included no new money for Ukraine, highlighting the reluctance of some of his caucus to back Ukraine funds.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool)