Romney: We Must Secure Border and Continue Aid for Ukraine and Israel

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined NBC’s Meet the Press with Kristen Welker to discuss negotiations on the Senate’s supplemental aid package, which he argued must include both border security and continued aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Romney’s exchange on the supplemental can be found below, and video can be found here.

Kristen Welker: The Senate has one week left to negotiate this aid package for Israel and Ukraine. Republicans are holding a hard line on border security. What are the implications of not passing aid to Ukraine right now, Senator?

Senator Romney: Well, I don’t know specifically how quickly the money has to get to Ukraine, the armament has to get to Ukraine, whether we could wait until January, but I can say just a couple of things. One is, it’s not just Republicans that are holding a hard line. It’s Democrats [that] are holding a hard line. Either side can move and can get this done. And here’s the position of my side and our side. And that is we have gone from 1,000-2,000 encounters—illegal encounters—at the border a day under the three prior presidents, under Bush, Obama, and Trump—1,000-2000 a day. Now we’re seeing 10,000 to 12,000 a day. As Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman said, we’re basically seeing Pittsburgh show up at the border every month, all right. We’re at a rate of incursions into the country of about four million a year. That’s larger than the population of 24 of our states. So, we want to solve that to secure the border. I just saw the President of the United States say that we’ve got to secure the border. He’s right. So, any effort that doesn’t do that will be rejected by Republicans. We want to get it back to the level that existed under the three prior presidents.

Welker: And I guess and you’re right, I know that this is a priority for Republicans. And you’re right, President Biden has said he’s willing to negotiate. It was described to me, you have to get through all of the disagreement around the border to even start addressing the Ukraine and Israel piece of it. Taking it a step back. What message do you think it sends to President Putin, to President Xi, when they see that there are a growing number of Republicans who are opposed to writing what they say is a blank check to Ukraine?

Romney: Well, we’re not going to write a blank check. We’re going to evaluate exactly how the money is spent. What we’re going to do is provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to defend themselves against a brutal invasion by Putin, who is a thug and a murderer. So, that’s what we’re going to do. Now, I think Putin and Xi recognize that democracy is messy, that our system is not authoritarian. We don’t have a king. We don’t have a dictator. They’re dictators. They like to make a big deal out of the process that we go through. But you know what? It has worked for America in the past. It will work in the future. We’ll get through this. And ultimately, don’t forget the President was the one that put the put the border and the border security issue as part of this package. This is not a Republican issue. He brought it to the front, and that’s why we’re dealing with it.

Welker: I just very quickly, I mean, you were the first person to call attention to Russia what you described our number one geopolitical foe. Are you comfortable with your party’s position on Ukraine?

Romney: Well, each individual makes their own posture known on a particular issue. My own view is that it’s very much in America’s interest to see Ukraine successful and to provide the weapons that Ukraine needs to defend itself. Anything other than that would be a huge dereliction of our responsibility, I believe, to the world of democracy, but also to our own national interest. Because if Putin thinks he can invade his neighbor with impunity and that we’re just going to step back, that we’re going to say, we’re tired, we’re not going to keep on helping. Then guess what? He’s not going to stop and he’s going to go into a NATO nation that’s going to draw NATO and our troops into war with Russia. This is in America’s interest to make sure that Ukraine puts up a great fight.