- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2021

Rep. Madison Cawthorn wants the U.S. to focus on pressing issues at home before spinning its wheels over the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The first-term Republican from North Carolina said the crisis at America’s southern border and the struggles faced by homeless veterans should take priority over crises abroad.

“Instead of being the police force of the world, some people who want to say, ‘Oh my goodness, well you know what, there’s this terrible border crisis going on in Ukraine and Russia, [President] Vladimir Putin, blah blah,’” Mr. Cawthorn, 26, said in his address to young conservatives at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest in Phoenix. “I don’t care. I really don’t.”

Mr. Cawthorn said that rather than weighing in on the conflict abroad, the U.S. should focus on its own border.

“I love Eastern Europe, I’m sure it’s a great place, but until we get our own southern border secured, I don’t give a damn about the border conflict in Ukraine,” he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 173,620 encounters at the southern border last month, a 140% increase over the same period in 2020.

Mr. Cawthorn also said the U.S. should focus on caring for its veterans before focusing on conflicts overseas.

“Before we as a Christian nation start going out and paying for gender studies in Egypt and giving all this foreign aid, why don’t we start by serving the homeless veterans on the side of the street,” he said.

His remarks, first reported by Fox News, echo the “America First” agenda of former President Donald Trump and still resonate with the Republican base.

Other lawmakers have taken a more hawkish stance toward the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“The United States cannot ignore Putin’s latest efforts to rob the Ukrainian people of their sovereignty,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said last week. “Putin should know that America is watching, and both Democrats and Republicans agree that this aggression must stop.”

Mr. Cornyn has joined nine of his colleagues in introducing a bipartisan resolution that calls on the Biden administration to “support Ukraine’s sovereignty by providing lethal aid to bolster Ukrainian armed forces and reaffirm our commitment to our European allies, as well as hold Putin accountable for his thuggery.”

Ukrainian forces have been in a simmering war with Russian-backed separatists for the past seven years, tensions that escalated during the Obama administration.

Russia has reportedly staged nearly 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine in recent weeks, sparking fears that an invasion may be imminent and raising questions over the U.S.’ role in responding to the conflict.  

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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