State of the Union: Amid disputes, common cause for Ukraine

Feb 28, 2022, 2:47 PM | Updated: 3:12 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — They have argued viciously in Congress over just about everything: Whether the Capitol insurrection should be investigated or brushed aside. If the president’s choice for the Supreme Court should be limited to the first Black woman. Even over whether or not to wear masks in the Capitol building.

But as lawmakers gather for President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address amid the gravity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they have mustered a rare and remarkable bipartisan resolve, determined to hold the U.S. and its allies together in the defense of a Western-oriented democracy.

When Biden stands in the House chamber Tuesday evening, trying to make good on what until now has been a faltering attempt to resolve the nation’s bitter divisions, he may find that the threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin abroad has become the unexpected force pulling the U.S. political parties toward common purpose.

“I think you will see in the State of the Union, a strong bipartisan support for our president,” predicts Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a Biden ally.

The turn of events is both stunning and fragile. Foreign policy has not been the kind of bipartisan draw it was during the past century, when Congress and the White House worked together as the U.S dominated the global stage. Factions on the right and left have broken off, most definitively over the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating oddball political alliances in the U.S. and chiseling away at a shared mission.

The revival of a robust majority that’s largely supportive of Biden’s strategy toward Russia is even more striking because it is shaping up as one of the most significant rejections of Donald Trump’s embrace of Putin and the former president’s praise of Putin’s tactics as Russia invaded Ukraine.

“We’re all together at this point and we need to be together about what should be done,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Still, the State of the Union address may not be free of partisan antics, unfolding against the backdrop of a Congress deeply divided over many issues: a prime-time address to the nation, too tempting for lawmakers looking for attention.

This year is particularly fraught amid ongoing COVID restrictions and a Capitol still largely shuttered to the public. That’s due in part to safety concerns in the aftermath of the deadly Jan 6, 2021 assault by Trump supporters trying to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s election.

Tuesday’s gathering in the House chamber will be the first time since the pandemic outbreak in 2020 and last year’s attack on the Capitol that all members of the House and Senate are being invited to gather for what typically has been an annual event.

Masks will no longer be required, removing once source of friction for those lawmakers who had flouted the guidelines and risked being booted from the session for failing to comply — though COVID tests and social distancing measures will still be required

But the heavy metal security fence is back up around the Capitol complex, a bow to the “new normal”of threats from within America’s own electorate.

And it can’t be said that Republicans are fully pleased with Biden’s handling of the Ukraine war.

McConnell has been highly critical of the president’s runup to the crisis, calling the White House’s disastrous exit from Afghanistan last summer a sign of U.S. weakness that opened the door to Putin’s invasion.

Leading Republican lawmakers have derided what defense hawks view as Biden’s initial reluctance to impose sanctions to deter Putin’s advance on Ukraine. Others have criticized the White House climate change agenda as creating an energy policy that boosts Russian exports, including via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, now scrapped over the war.

“We all know what Putin wants, and he said so publicly: He wants to reconstitute the USSR and pull back in his orbit all the countries that were in it before,” said Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. “This is a seminal moment.”

But even some of the Trump’s staunch supporters are parting ways with the former president after he called Putin’s invasion tactics “genius.”

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who rallied with Trump supporters ahead of last year’s assault on the Capitol and has won Trump’s endorsement in the Alabama Senate primary, lambasted Putin’s invasion as “barbaric and evil.”

But in a nod to the non-interventionist strain that runs deep in both left and right flanks, Brooks added, “While Putin’s Ukrainian invasion and murders are heinous, this is first and foremost a problem for Western Europe to resolve.”

Congress will face tests ahead, starting with Biden’s request for at least $6.4 billion in supplemental funding to help Ukraine, which will require cooperation from both parties.

Said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.: “You have the Trump voices in there, obviously, you know, a big part of the Republican Party nationally, but at least so far on Capitol Hill, especially in the Senate, I think you’ve got an overall bipartisan consensus. “I hope it stays that way.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Tesla’s 2Q sales drop amid supply chain, pandemic problems

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla’s sales from April through June fell to their lowest quarterly level since last fall as supply chain issues and pandemic restrictions in China hobbled production of its electric vehicles. The company on Saturday disclosed it sold more than 254,000 cars and SUVs from April through June, an 18% drop from the […]
11 hours ago
Victor Rosenberg, 81, looks out of a broken window in his home destroyed by the Russian rocket atta...
Associated Press

Russians press assault on eastern Ukrainian city

KYIV, Ukarine (AP) — Russian forces pounded the city of Lysychansk and its surroundings in an all-out attempt to seize the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, the governor said Saturday. Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Uvalde schools’ police chief resigns from City Council

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo told the […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Jerry Emmett, who was born before women won the right to vote in the U.S., leaves the Yavapa...
Associated Press

Top election officials in Arizona county leave amid threats

The elected county recorder and the elections director in Arizona's Yavapai County are resigning after more than a year and a half of threats and heated criticism from backers of former President Donald Trump who accept his lie that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud.
11 hours ago
Associated Press

2 teenagers killed, 1 man wounded in Houston-area shooting

HOUSTON (AP) — Two teenagers were killed and one man was injured in a shooting at Houston-area apartment complex, authorities said Saturday. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter that deputies responded to reports of a shooting in the parking lot of the complex in north Harris County, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the opening of the Tesla factory Berlin Brandenburg in Gruenheid...
Associated Press

Musk meets pope, uses Twitter to announce the audience

ROME (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose $44 billion bid to buy Twitter remains in limbo, used the social media platform to announce he had met with Pope Francis. “Honored to meet @Pontifex yesterday,” Musk tweeted of the Friday afternoon audience, alongside a photo showing Musk, Francis and four of Musk’s teenage children. The […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
State of the Union: Amid disputes, common cause for Ukraine