Dec 10, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Zelensky plans D.C. trip as Ukraine aid hangs in the balance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Fernando Gens/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet in person with senators in both parties and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) during a visit to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian president's visit to Congress comes as lawmakers remain at an impasse over an emergency national security spending package that includes roughly $60 billion for Ukraine.

What we're hearing: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have invited Zelensky to speak at an all-senators meeting at the Capitol on Tuesday, according to a leadership aide.

  • Zelensky will also speak with Johnson at the Capitol that day, according to Johnson's deputy chief of staff for communications Raj Shah.

Between the lines: Senators are still trying to hammer out a deal to offset Ukraine aid with conservative border policy changes to appease Republicans – particularly the GOP House majority.

  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the lead Democratic negotiator, has accused Republicans of proposing border policies too stringent for Democrats to accept, while Republicans have alleged inflexibility on his part.
  • Zelensky was scheduled to address senators remotely during a briefing last week, but "could not make it" because "something happened at the last minute," Schumer told reporters.

Zoom in: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Zelensky will also meet with President Biden on Tuesday "to underscore the United States' unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia's brutal invasion."

  • "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," she said.
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