On Dec. 12, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, D.C., in an effort to secure more U.S. aid for his country, which has been locked in a conflict with Russia for nearly two years. While his appeal resonated with many in Congress, the funding package he sought has become entangled in domestic U.S. politics. The Joe Biden administration and the U.S. Congress have directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
“It’s great to be at your side, and we will stay by your side,“ Biden said to Zelensky in the Oval Office ahead of their private meeting. “I don’t want you giving up hope.”
“It is very important that by the end of this year we can send some very strong signals of unity to the aggressor,” Zelensky said during a joint news conference with Biden during his 10-hour visit to the U.S.
Bipartisan support exists for providing tens of billions of dollars in new aid to Ukraine. However, House and Senate Republicans have tied their support for the aid to demands for stricter border control policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, a condition rejected by Democrats. This policy standoff has halted progress on funding for Ukraine.
During his third visit to D.C., President Zelensky met with senators, House leaders, and President Biden but failed to secure new funding for Ukraine. His speech to Congress was full of standing ovations, but nothing more.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that it’s “practically impossible” to pass any Ukraine and border deal before the Christmas break. Democrats accuse Republicans of being unreasonable by linking Ukraine aid to border policy, making it challenging for Democrats to support the demands, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In a border negotiators’ meeting, Democrats and White House representatives signaled their willingness to make further concessions on border policy to strike a last-minute deal. One proposed concession was the creation of a new expulsion authority, allowing for the suspension of asylum at the southern border under specific conditions. A compromise was not met.
But he didn’t go home empty handed. Biden has already signed off on $200 million in new military assistance during Zelensky’s visit, The Hill reported. Lawmakers, however, probably won’t deliver the president’s request for an estimated $61 billion in additional funding to assist Ukraine until 2024.
(L-R) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Joe Biden, Oval Office, White House, Dec. 12, C-Span screenshot, https://www.c-span.org/video/?532380-1/president-biden-meets-ukrainian-president-zelensky