Noem, SD Congressional Delegation differ on Russia-Ukraine war approach

The South Dakota congressional delegation has consistently voted in favor of sending money and weapons to Ukraine, but Noem has more recently taken a stance skeptical of that approach.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 8:47 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Republican elected officials are polarized about what should come next for United States’ involvement in the war in Ukraine, and that is no different in South Dakota.

The state’s three member congressional delegation has been strong supporters of the Ukrainian government, and financially supporting the war efforts. The United States government has sent at least $100 billion to the war torn country in the last year.

Senator Mike Rounds, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a staunch proponent of Ukraine, argues that the United States’ involvement in Ukraine is bigger than the war itself.

”Ukraine is being watched very carefully by China. Based upon the fact that our country withdrew from Afghanistan very poorly, that made China think we may pull out of other areas poorly as well,” explained Rounds, weary of what that could mean for the future of Taiwan.

But in response to a questionnaire sent out by Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, Governor Kristi Noem raised concerns about the United States involvement in the conflict.

Specifically, Noem suggested that the United States could be pushing other countries away from using the U.S. dollar when trading because of their involvement in the war, ultimately weakening it’s value.

”I just wonder what the point is, we need to make sure we are putting America first. We are spending five times more on Ukraine than we have on the United States. We have spent more on Ukraine than we have on the U.S.-Mexico border for the last 5 years. The people of this country deserve a return on their investment and their government as well,” Noem said to local reporters Wednesday.

It’s an issue that could loom large during the presidential primary in 2024. According to Pew Research, the number of Americans who believe too much money is being sent to Ukraine has steadily grown over the last year, since the conflict started in February 2022.

”These economic sanctions that we have been utilizing on Russia have hurt the American people too, and there hasn’t been a concrete plan with this policy,” said Noem. “We need to recognize that Russia is a threat to the United States, and Putin is an evil man... But is there a plan and is this bringing any extra security to the united states?”

Rounds believes there is room for debate within the Republican Party on the issue, and room to take care of multiple priorities, like the border, at once.

”I don’t think any of us, as we look at what we are planning on doing, thinks that we should necessarily draw red lines unless we are prepared to defend those red lines,” Rounds suggested. “And I don’t necessarily think we should be telling our adversaries what we wont do.”

Florida Governor, and potential 2024 Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis also questioned the United States’ role in the war in Ukraine. Those statements drew pushback from several Republican lawmakers, including Senator John Thune.