WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday evening that the U.S. faces two extraordinary challenges, a full-swing power struggle with Russia in Ukraine, and an all-out economic competition with China.

“The common denominator is approaching each of them (Russia and China) from a position of strength. And that strength starts with our investments in our strength at home, and our ability to work in alignment with many other countries around the world,” Blinken told a crowd of students and faculty at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.

Blinken’s call for multilateralism and domestic cohesion came just hours after the U.S. House of Representatives ousted its own Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for the first time in history. 

Blinken made no reference to the fractured domestic politics in Washington, including last weekend’s narrowly avoided government shutdown that came after Congress jettisoned $6 billion in assistance to Ukraine. 

In a statement following Congress’ approval to keep the government funded but nix funds to Ukraine, President Biden noted that the U.S. “cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted.”

That disrupted funding came as Ukraine prepared for the winter “heating season,” when Russia was projected to intensify attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

The U.S. is likely able to continue supporting Ukraine with weaponry for the moment, though experts said Ukraine would start to feel that shortage by late November.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made assurances that funding for Ukraine aid remained a priority, just after the bill was passed. “We will not stop fighting for more economic and security assistance for Ukraine,” he said. “Doing more is vital for America’s security and for democracy around the world.”

Putin thinks he can outlast U.S. support to Ukraine, Blinken said. “As long as he believes that, or until he’s disabused of that notion, then it’s unlikely that he’ll be prepared to engage meaningfully and in diplomacy to end the aggression.”

The Kremlin said just this week that the West would soon tire of funding Ukraine’s defense.

Blinken stressed the importance of maintaining western support for Ukraine so Putin is not successful.

“I think people also understand that if Putin is allowed to get away with this, if he’s allowed to act with impunity in Ukraine, then the message towards the aggressors anywhere and everywhere is, ‘We can get away with it too,’” Blinken said. “And that’s an invitation to a world of conflict.”