Ukraine’s Zelenskyy will meet with Biden, congressional leaders amid standoff over more aid


(WASHINGTON) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will meet both with President Joe Biden at the White House and with congressional leaders on Tuesday amid debate in Washington about providing billions of dollars in additional military aid to Ukraine.

“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,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The Senate’s majority and minority leaders, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, have also invited Zelenskyy to speak at an all-senators meeting on Tuesday morning, according to a leadership aide.

House Speaker Mike Johnson will meet with Zelenskyy on Tuesday in the Capitol, too, according to his spokesman.

Zelenskyy’s trip comes as additional funding for Ukraine remains in limbo, with a vote on more money failing in the Senate last week.

The Biden administration has asked for $61 billion in Ukraine aid as part of a $100 billion-plus package that would also include money for Israel, currently at war with Hamas in the wake of a Hamas terror attack, as well as money for Taiwan and $14 billion for border security.

But Republicans, some of whom have become increasingly skeptical of spending more to back Ukraine in defending against Russia’s invasion, have said that major immigration policy changes must be part of any deal.

“People want a legal, orderly process, not the chaos that we currently have on our southern border. That shouldn’t be too tall of an order to be able to fulfill,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, who is leading his party in the chamber in negotiations on the border, told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos earlier this month.

“There’s a reason that this hasn’t been done in decades, because it’s hard. It’s very technical work, and there’s a lot of challenges that are in it. And any time you deal with border security, there are a lot of complicating features in this. … But the most important thing is to be able to get this right,” Lankford said then.

The White House has said its aid proposal is a priority and repeatedly urged swift passage.

“Ukraine has done an extraordinary job in defending against this Russian aggression,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on This Week on Sunday.

“Over the past years, it’s taking back more than 50% of its territory. It’s engaged in a ferocious battle right now along the eastern and southern fronts. We are running out of resources already in the bank to continue to assist them,” Blinken said.

Biden has been more blunt, saying Wednesday, after Republicans blocked his proposal in the Senate: “[They] are willing to give [Russian President Vladimir] Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership, not just Ukraine, but beyond that.”

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