After long battle over Ukraine aid, Mitch McConnell says largest foes were outside Congress

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed former president Donald Trump and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for the six-month delay in the $95 billion foreign aid package Congress passed this week.

"Our nominee for President didn't seem to want us to do anything at all," McConnell said at a press conference Tuesday. "That took months to work our way through it."

McConnell also said Carlson's February interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin complicated party members' support for the package.

"The demonization of Ukraine began by Tucker Carlson, who in my opinion ended up where he should have been all along, which is interviewing Vladimir Putin," McConnell said. "He had an enormous audience, which convinced a lot of rank and file Republicans that maybe this was a mistake."

Earlier this year, McConnell said Trump made passing an aid package for Ukraine "doubly challenging" after he told members of Congress the U.S. had done enough to support its allies. McConnell added, however, that he felt congress turned a corner on what he called an isolationist movement with it passed the $95 billion package Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, president Joe Biden announced he had signed the $95 billion foreign aid bill.

"It's a good day for America, it's a good day for Europe and it's a good day for world peace," Biden said.

The Republican senator from Kentucky has been a staunch advocate of the U.S. providing military aid to Ukraine since Russia's invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022 . In the last two years, he and Biden have worked together to persuade some Republican senators to approve aid for Ukraine as their support waned. The package approved Tuesday includes $60 billion for Ukraine.

"This is an important day for America and a very important day for freedom-loving countries around the world," McConnell said Tuesday.

More: Ukraine, Israel aid package heads to Biden as Congress caps months-long struggle

The foreign aid package approved Tuesday passed with a bipartisan 79-18 vote. It also includes $17 billion for Israel, $9 billion for humanitarian aid in Gaza and elsewhere, and $8 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific.

Rachel Barber is a 2024 election fellow at USA TODAY, focusing on politics and education. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, as @rachelbarber_

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mitch McConnell blames Tucker Carlson, Trump for delaying Ukraine aid