Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had little success in his attempt to sway congressional Republicans to stop their obstruction of aid to his country in its fight against Russia’s invasion. Zelenskyy tweeted that he had “a friendly and candid conversation” with members of the Senate, in which he informed them “about Ukraine’s current military and economic situation, the significance of sustaining vital U.S. support, and answered their questions.”
The GOP senators, ridiculously, wanted Zelenskyy to instead talk to them about their reason for blocking that aid: the U.S. border. “Multiple senators indicated that Republicans raised border security in questions to the war-time leader,” Politico reported, “but said that Zelenskyy didn’t directly address it.” And why the hell would he? That’s not why he was there, and he’s been kind of too busy leading the fight against the Russians to bone up on the nuances of U.S. immigration policy.
“If he gets the help he needs, he will win,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after the meeting. “If we lose, Putin wins—and this will be very, very dangerous for the United States.” He added that Zelenskyy made it clear that “He needs the aid quickly.”
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, once Ukraine’s staunchest supporter, wasn’t moved.
“We know the threats we face are intertwined — that Russia and China and North Korea work together to undermine America and the West,” he said on the floor after the meeting.
“We know that our border, just like Ukraine’s borders and Israel’s and Taiwan’s, must be inviolable,” McConnell continued. “That’s why for months now, we’ve supported supplemental action on all four of the most pressing national security challenges we face,” he said.
Zelenskyy did not have better luck with House Speaker Mike Johnson, who said in a statement following their meeting that while he’s supportive of Ukraine’s mission, the “first condition on any national security supplemental spending package is about our own national security first.”
“From the very beginning, when I was handed the gavel, we needed clarity on what we’re doing in Ukraine and how we’ll have proper oversight of the spending of precious taxpayer dollars, and we needed a transformative change at the border. Thus far we’ve gotten neither,” Johnson said, calling the border an “absolute catastrophe.”
Aid to Ukraine—and to Israel and Taiwan, which is also included in the supplemental spending bill—depends on Senate Republicans making concessions on their immigration demands. That’s not happening any time soon. McConnell made it official at the Senate GOP’s luncheon Tuesday, telling his team to punt it until January. Merry Christmas, Vladimir Putin! Moscow Mitch just gave you Ukraine.
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