US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has expressed his hesitancy in committing another $24 billion in aid to Ukraine, stating that he has some questions for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. This comes as the flow of American military assistance to Kiev has come to a halt, with the disagreement over authorizing further funding potentially bringing Washington to a standstill.
Zelensky is scheduled to meet with lawmakers in Capitol Hill during his visit to Washington on Thursday. In anticipation of this meeting, McCarthy was asked on Tuesday whether he would pledge the requested $24 billion in military and economic aid to the Ukrainian president. In response, McCarthy questioned Zelensky’s role, stating, “Is Zelensky elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don’t think I have to commit anything, and I think I have questions for him.”
McCarthy continued by emphasizing the need for accountability regarding the money that has already been spent, asking, “Where’s the accountability on the money we’ve already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know.”
In the US Senate, the top Republican and Democratic leaders, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, respectively, are looking to attach the $24 billion to a larger funding bill that must be passed before the end of the month to keep the government running. However, McCarthy argues that any funding for Ukraine should be discussed separately from the broader bill. On the other hand, a group of hardline conservatives in the House, known as the ‘Freedom Caucus’, are advocating for individual bills for each government agency, instead of the comprehensive funding bill. The ‘Freedom Caucus’ generally aligns itself with former President Donald Trump and opposes further aid to Ukraine.
Representative Byron Donalds, a member of the ‘Freedom Caucus’, highlighted the lack of available funding, stating, “There’s no money in the House right now for Ukraine. It’s not there. To be blunt, we’re running a $2 trillion deficit. Any money we give to Ukraine, we’re borrowing from our future.” Donalds added that it is not a favorable time for Zelensky to be in the United States, considering the current fiscal situation.
Since Russia initiated its military operation last February, the US has allocated a total of $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, including over $43 billion worth of arms, ammunition, and other military equipment.
The debate over providing additional funding to Ukraine reflects the ongoing political struggle in Washington and divergent viewpoints on the allocation of resources. It remains to be seen how the discussions between Zelensky and lawmakers will unfold and whether a resolution will be reached regarding the requested aid.