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Media: Zelensky to speak at US Senate on Dec. 12, meet House speaker

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 11, 2023 6:19 PM 2 min read
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson conducts a meeting on Nov. 7, 2023 (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak at the Senate in the morning of Dec. 12 during his visit to the U.S. and will also meet with House Speaker Mike Johnson, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 11, citing an unnamed Senate aide and Johnson's spokesman Raj Shah.

The planned meetings come as the future of U.S. aid to Ukraine is in question and existing funds are almost depleted.

Zelensky will also meet U.S. President Joe Biden on Dec. 12. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced on Dec. 10 that Biden had invited Zelensky to Washington to "underscore the United States’ unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion."

Zelensky was supposed to give an address to Congress on Dec. 5 ahead of a vote on a funding bill that included $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, but it was canceled at the last minute.

At the time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said that “something happened at the last minute,” without elaborating further. Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, explained later that that Zelensky had canceled the address because Congress was discussing a variety of issues that included domestic matters, not just Ukraine.

Republicans blocked the funding bill in a narrow vote on Dec. 6, insisting that any further aid for Ukraine or Israel must include significant changes to the U.S. border and immigration policy.

Biden and other Democratic leaders condemned the vote, and have also offered to make concessions on the immigration and border policy to try and attract more Republican votes, in the hopes of ultimately passing a funding package for Ukraine.

Johnson has said previously that he supports future funding for Ukraine, but has also sought to tie controversial border funding into the larger spending package.

The heavy restrictions and "transformative change" on the border policy proposed by Johnson are likely to be non-starters for many Democratic politicians.

US domestic political turmoil threatens to undermine support for Ukraine
The Republican party has increasingly soured on continuing to support Ukraine, often citing economic reasons. However, what ultimately doomed the Dec. 6 vote was the mixing of U.S. aid to Ukraine with other political issues, namely domestic border security and the U.S. aid for longtime ally Israel.


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