House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declared on Thursday that he could not accommodate a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address a joint session of Congress.
“Although President Zelenskyy sought to address a joint session, our schedule simply couldn’t fit it in. ” McCarthy (R-Calif.) mentioned that he has already delivered such an address, alluding to Zelenskyy’s past U.S. visit in December 2022.
“Our approach with Zelenskyy mirrors what we did for the leaders of the U.K. and Italy. We’re assembling a bipartisan group to converse with him like we did for others.
Amid the House’s challenges in pushing forward funding bills with a month-end deadline approaching, the debate over sustained financial aid for Ukraine remains a contentious issue among conservatives.
During his last trip in December, Zelensky addressed a joint session of Congress. He returned to Washington this Thursday, meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill to bolster support for additional U.S. assistance in the conflict with Russia.
While Zelensky met with the entire Senate in the Old Senate Chamber, only a handful of House leaders participated in a separate meeting on Capitol Hill.
McCarthy emphasized that their meeting with Zelensky followed the same protocol as previous interactions with international dignitaries in the House.
Zelenskyy is currently in Washington, D.C., advocating for increased U.S. assistance as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia persists.
This follows Zelenskyy’s joint session address last December and his recent speech at the United Nations.
Last month, President Joe Biden sought Congressional approval for an additional $24 billion to back Ukraine in its conflict, adding to the prior $113 billion designated for the country.
Yet, several House and Senate Republicans have questioned this proposal, seeking clarity on the expenditures and an update on the conflict.
“Many are wondering about the endgame. There’s a demand for accountability to ensure the aid is appropriately used,” McCarthy shared with journalists on Wednesday.
Currently, McCarthy is navigating disagreements with fellow GOP members over budgetary matters, which could result in a potential government closure by month’s end.
Furthermore, a meeting between President Biden and Zelenskyy is anticipated.