Zelenskyy to Visit White House Amid Aid Package Impasse in Congress

The Ukrainian president was also reportedly invited to speak in an all-senators meeting on Dec. 12.
Zelenskyy to Visit White House Amid Aid Package Impasse in Congress
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden walk to the Oval Office on Sept. 21, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Emel Akan

The White House announced on Dec. 10 that President Joe Biden will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on Dec. 12 as Congress remains in a stalemate on a new aid package for the war-torn country.

“President Biden has invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to the White House for a meeting on Tuesday, December 12, to underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,” reads a statement released by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

“As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment.”

This upcoming visit will be Mr. Zelenskyy’s third trip to Washington since the war in Ukraine began; his most recent visit was in September. It arrives at a critical juncture in congressional negotiations over emergency aid for Ukraine. However, progress has come to a halt because of a deadlock over tying immigration and border policy changes to the aid package.

“Key topics for discussions in Washington will include the continuation of defense cooperation between Ukraine and the United States,” the office of the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement on Dec. 10.

In addition, the Ukrainian president was reportedly invited to speak in an all-senators meeting on Dec. 12 by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He is also expected to meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Mr. Zelenskyy’s visit comes after Senate Republicans blocked a package last week that would have provided aid to Ukraine and Israel. Senate Republicans criticized the lack of U.S. border provisions in the bill.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted with Republicans against the plan in a 49–51 vote, and Mr. Schumer flipped his vote to “no” to allow him to bring the bill up again later.

On Dec. 5, Mr. Zelenskyy abruptly canceled a classified briefing with U.S. senators. The briefing was intended to discuss Ukraine’s pressing need for additional funding and military support from the United States. Something came up at the last minute, Mr. Schumer told reporters when asked about Mr. Zelenskyy’s cancellation.

The Biden administration had previously requested nearly $106 billion in supplemental funding from Congress, with about $60 billion allocated to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia and the remaining $46 billion going toward Israel, security in Taiwan, and funding for operations at the U.S.–Mexico border.

White House budget director Shalanda Young warned that cutting off U.S. aid would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield” in a letter sent to Mr. Johnson on Dec. 4.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks,” Ms. Young wrote.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time.”

Congress previously approved $111 billion in supplemental funding to support Ukraine and address critical national security needs since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

In response to the White House’s concerns, Mr. Johnson sent a letter on Dec. 5, stating that he had listed conditions for Republicans to support the Ukraine funding during a meeting with Ms. Young and national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Oct. 26.

“First, I explained that supplemental Ukraine funding is dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws,” the letter read.

“Second, I explained that Congress and the American people must be provided with answers to our repeated questions concerning: the Administration’s strategy to prevail in Ukraine; clearly defined and attainable objectives; transparency and accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars invested there; and what specific resources are required to achieve victory and a sustainable peace.”

In a speech on Dec. 6, President Biden urged Congress to pass Ukraine funding before the holiday break.

“This cannot wait. Congress needs to pass supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess. It’s as simple as that,” President Biden said.

“Frankly, I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place,” he said, adding that the Republicans are “willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership.”

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said on Dec. 10 that U.S. officials should consider the possibility that Ukraine will “cede some territory” in its fight against Russia.

“What’s in America’s best interest is to accept Ukraine is going to have to cede some territory to the Russians and we need to bring this war to a close,“ he said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“But when I think about the great human tragedy here, hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans—innocent—have been killed in this conflict, the thing that’s in our interest and in theirs is to stop the killing.”

Emel Akan is a senior White House correspondent for The Epoch Times, where she covers the Biden administration. Prior to this role, she covered the economic policies of the Trump administration. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
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