Nancy Pelosi's trip to Ukraine was a cover-up for partisan failure

Washington, June 2, 2022 Contact:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a congressional delegation comprising entirely Democratic members to Ukraine , telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “Your fight is a fight for everyone.” Pelosi then accepted several gifts, including a Ukrainian flag signed by Zelensky and female members of Ukraine’s Parliament, as well as a medal from the Order of Princess Olga.

Instead of accepting these traditional diplomatic gifts on behalf of the American people, Pelosi went out of her way to accept “on behalf of the congressional Democrats.” Why? To cover up Democratic failures on Ukraine.

Zelensky graciously praised Pelosi’s “significant personal contribution” in strengthening American support, but therein lies the rubThe all-Democratic congressional delegation seeks to hide the inefficiencies and ineptitude the Democrats have shown all along toward the perennial aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats and the Biden administration have been complicit in the foreign policy failures they are now running away from. Their decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have provided the United States with 800,000 barrels of oil per day, hurt our domestic oil production. Their choice to supplement that shortfall with Russian oil, coupled with President Joe Biden’s decision to remove U.S. sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, were both obviously bad choices at the time — and they have since helped fund Putin’s war to the tune of billions of dollars.

Democratic policies reduced our energy independence, empowered Russia, and made both the U.S. and Europe more vulnerable.

Time and time again, the Biden administration conveyed weakness on the world stage. First, Biden botched the Afghanistan withdrawal. Then, in late January 2022, he said that a “minor incursion” into Ukraine might be less consequential than a full invasion — a statement our NATO partners around the world had to walk back hastily.

When former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked for weapons to fight Russian-backed separatists in 2014, the Obama-Biden administration responded by sending blankets. Later, under a Republican administration, we sent Javelins and Stingers and supported a strong defensive posture against Russian aggression.

Even liberal comedian Bill Maher recognized that it is hardly a coincidence that Putin invaded Ukrainian Crimea under the Obama-Biden administration and that Putin chose, wait for it, the Biden presidency to launch his new invasion.

That’s not all. Biden gave the Russian leader a new five-year strategic nuclear arms (New START) extension deal with no strings attached. Biden also failed to enforce cyber “red lines” from the Geneva Summit and then continued to work with Russia on the Iran deal as late as March 2022. For months, the Biden administration refused to confront Putin over his military buildup along Ukraine’s border. His administration even shared the intelligence about that buildup with China.

This administration sent a clear message insofar as it gave Putin a green light.

The image of Pelosi soaking up praise for her “personal contribution” in Ukraine and accepting honors on behalf of her political party is offensive. Ukrainian aid is the product of bipartisan collaboration. Billions in taxpayer dollars support that aid. And both the aid and moral support for Ukraine come from Americans of all political stripes.

Just months ago, when Ukraine desperately needed support against Putin’s unprovoked, unjustified, and illegal invasion, both parties came together and quickly agreed to an aid package, approving billions in security aid. That aid included 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, thousands of anti-tank weapons, and 2,000 Javelin systems.

While it is actually good for the leader of the entire House of Representatives to engage in congressional delegations by traveling overseas to inspect areas relevant to our lawmaking efforts, these trips are almost always bipartisan endeavors — for good reason. In December, before the invasion commenced, I traveled to Kyiv with a bipartisan delegation because the fight to support and defend democracy should originate from and receive support from both sides of the aisle. Support for Ukraine’s democracy should not even have a whiff of partisan politics, nor should congressional travel be something that a single party can co-opt for partisan purposes.

Yet Pelosi chose not to invite a single Republican to travel with her. Instead, she took with her Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Jason Crow (D-CO)

Pelosi’s solely Democratic trip looks like a cover-up — as if she wants the public to ignore Democratic policy failures against Russia and to believe that it is the Democratic Party alone that backs Ukraine. In reality, Democrats were late to a war that they arguably helped make possible.

Bipartisan approval happens so rarely in modern times that these moments are spoken of in almost hushed, reverenced tones in the corridors of Congress.

Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi could not resist the opportunity to spoil a sacred moment.

This piece was originally published in the Washington Examiner.