During a visit from President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden announced that he signed a $200 million presidential drawdown for military aid to Kyiv, but the members of Congress showed little interest in changing their opinion on the new $110 billion aid package proposal, after meeting with the Ukrainian leader.
In its last vote on the aid package, the Senate failed to find the requisite 60 votes for passage, while the Republican-led House of Representatives, by all accounts, will be an even bigger obstacle for the $60 billion proposal for Ukraine. The Senate will attempt a new vote on the package later this week.
Zelensky said he was satisfied with his discussions with senators and representatives, but acknowledged that the passage of new aid to Ukraine is far from certain.
“[The meetings] were more than positive,” Zelensky said in remarks at the White House. "But we know that we have to separate words from particular results. Therefore we will count on particular results.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson gave no signal that the leader’s visit swayed his opinion in any way.
“What the Biden administration seems to be asking for is billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight, no clear strategy to win, and none of the answers that I think the American people are owed,” Johnson told the press after his sit-down with the Ukrainian president.
In the joint press conference with Zelensky, Biden announced the $200 million in pre-approved aid that includes air defense systems, HIMARS rockets and other equipment and munitions. He repeated his administration’s willingness to agree to changes in immigration policy in return for Republican support for Kyiv.
“Ukraine will emerge from this war, proud, free and firmly rooted in the West, unless we walk away,” he said.
He noted that he had seen a show on Russian state television where the host reportedly congratulated Republicans on their position.
“When you’re being celebrated by Russian propagandists, it might be time to re-think what you’re doing,” Biden said.
For his part, Zelensky used his White House platform to thank the US for its support to date, to stress the successes that Ukraine has made on the battlefield, and express hope that through a continued partnership, Ukraine could enjoy a Christmas at peace in 2024.
Hard-right Republican holdouts
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has railed against Ukrainian aid throughout the course of the invasion, had some strong words about Zelensky’s visit.
“I’m sure he’s just coming to beg for more money,” she scoffed in an interview Tuesday with CNN.
Greene warned that her extreme-right faction in the House of Representatives will cause more problems for the House Speaker if Congress agrees to fund Ukraine in exchange for border concessions.
She said the border comes first, does not belong in the same aid package with Ukraine (Democrats agree with her on that much), and that Congress has sent enough money to Kyiv already.
“It’s all about keep sending money to Ukraine, keep funding a war, keep killing people and our border stays wide open,” she told CNN. “Washington doesn’t care about finding a path to peace for Ukraine. They just care about funding the war, so they continue funding the military complex. And I think that is pretty sick; I think it’s pretty disgusting,” she said.
In his remarks alongside Zelensky, Biden acknowledged that a faction of Republicans are refusing to fund Ukraine outright, but that “I don’t believe they speak for the majority.”
He repeated that his administration is open to making major policy changes on immigration in order to get the aid passed.
“Compromise is how democracy works,” he said.
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