More Voices Join Congress' Calls for Biden to Give Ukraine Fighter Jets

Several members of Congress are calling on the Biden administration to help facilitate the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea to lawmakers on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the U.S. is considering sending planes to Poland if Warsaw decides to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

"We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes," he said Sunday, according to Reuters.

In an interview on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, Blinken also said that the U.S. is giving a "green light" to NATO countries that want to provide jets to Ukraine. However, no agreements between the U.S. or other countries regarding the facilitation of planes has been announced.

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said he is pushing the administration to help Poland transfer jets to the invaded country, during a Sunday appearance on CNN's State of the Union.

"I strongly urged the secretary of state yesterday to complete this transaction. You know, the Ukrainians can fly Russian MiGs. But then Poland wants a back order, and that may be possibly F-16s," he said.

The calls for the Biden administration to help provide Ukraine with fighter jets have been bipartisan. On Saturday, Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, sent a letter to President Joe Biden about the need to "resupply" and "replenish" the Ukrainian Armed Forces with lethal defensive equipment and aircraft.

Lawmakers Ask Biden to Give Ukraine Jets
Several members of Congress are calling on the Biden administration to help facilitate the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea to lawmakers on Saturday. Above, President Biden speaks at the White House on March 4 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee

"We strongly urge you to continue working alongside our allies to explore all feasible options to expedite the urgent transfer of aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force. Time is of the essence and the Ukrainian Armed Forces desperately need the aircraft that our allies may be willing to provide, if given the appropriate reassurances," they wrote.

The lawmakers said they were "committed" to "providing additional authorities and appropriations" to finance the transfer.

After the discussion with Zelensky on Saturday, other legislators including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, backed Zelensky's call for more planes.

"President Zelensky made a desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine. These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer," Schumer said.

Other congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have not publicly weighed in on the issue.

On Friday, a day before Zelensky's conversation with lawmakers, Representative Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, asked the Biden administration "to consider transferring additional military systems to Ukraine such as A-10 aircraft to counter Putin's armored assault."

"There is widespread agreement that providing direct air support puts us at war with Russia, but we can provide aircraft as Zelensky has asked," she said in a statement.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive a response before publication on Sunday afternoon.