Zelenskyy to meet with Biden, Congress as some Republicans sour on Ukraine support

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to U.S. President Joe Biden address the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, September 19, 2023.

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on Thursday as the embattled leader seeks to shore up additional support for his war-torn country.

Biden is seeking a “battlefield perspective” from Zelenskyy in their meeting, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Zelenskyy addressed the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week in New York.

During his own speech Tuesday at the UN, Biden promised the U.S. would “continue to stand” with Ukraine as Russia’s invasion drags on.

But getting Congress to fulfill that promise with more aid is complicated.

The White House is seeking $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, which it hoped would be passed alongside a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown as federal budget negotiations continue.

The measure has bipartisan support in the Senate. But it has been held up in the House of Representatives, where some members, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., have said they will not support any additional aid.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. is in a difficult position on the issue of Ukraine due to a slim GOP majority in the House, which gives individual Republican lawmakers leverage to pressure him to accede to their demands.

Conservatives balked at McCarthy’s proposal last week to pair Ukraine aid with additional border funding.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) during his visit to the U.S. Capitol Building on September 21, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

Zelenskyy stopped at the Capitol Thursday morning before his Oval Office meeting with Biden to make his pitch directly to lawmakers.

Unlike his visit in December, Zelenskyy did not address a joint session of Congress. 

McCarthy agreed to meet with the Ukrainian president privately but did not offer a forum for him to appeal to the full House of Representatives as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. did in the upper chamber.

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