Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address US senators by video on Tuesday during a private briefing, as Joe Biden’s administration urges Congress to approve the White House’s request for nearly $106 billion in funding for the wars. Ukraine and Israel, and for other security needs.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Zelenskyy’s participation in the session after the federal government on Monday sent an urgent warning about the need to approve military and economic aid to Ukraine, noting that the effort Kiev’s war effort to defend itself from the Russian invasion could come to a standstill without it.
Schumer said the government had invited Zelenskyy to address senators so they “could hear directly from him what’s at stake.” The secretaries of Defense, State and other high-ranking national security officials will also speak.
In a letter sent to the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives that was made public, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, warned that the United States will run out of funds to send weapons and aid to Ukraine by the end of the year, and that this will “incapacitate” Ukraine on the battlefield.
She added that the United States has already run out of the money it has used to prop up the Ukrainian economy, and “if the Ukrainian economy collapses, they won’t be able to continue fighting, full stop.”
“We’re running out of money and we’re almost running out of time too,” she wrote.
Biden has called for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other needs, but the request has not been well received on Capitol Hill. There is growing skepticism in the GOP about the magnitude of aid to Ukraine, and even Republicans who support the funds insist that changes to U.S.-Mexico border policy be included to stop the flow of migrants as a condition for aid.
“Congress has to decide whether to continue supporting the fight for Ukrainian freedom as part of the 50-nation coalition that President Biden has built, or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we have learned from history and let (President Vladimir) Putin wins,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Monday. “It’s that simple. It’s a clear decision, and we hope that Congress, on a bipartisan basis, makes the right decision.”
But negotiations on the border security package collapsed over the weekend after Republicans insisted it include provisions that Democrats say are draconian, aides said. Negotiations are scheduled to resume this week and a test vote will be held on Wednesday.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that his party is “still at the table.”
Congress has already approved $111 billion for Ukraine, including $67 billion in funding for military equipment, $27 billion in civil and economic assistance, and $10 billion in humanitarian assistance. Young wrote that all of those funds, except for 3% of the military assistance, had already been spent by mid-November.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, where Republicans are in the majority, approved a separate aid package for Israel for its war in the Gaza Strip, while the White House has maintained that all priorities must be met.
Increasingly disturbed by the death toll in the war between Israel and Hamas, Biden’s own allies in Congress are pressing the administration for Israel to commit to reducing civilian casualties and allowing aid into Gaza before sending more military aid.
On Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders said it would be “irresponsible” for the United States to send billions in military aid to Israel’s war without those conditions.
“What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral, it is a violation of international law, and the United States should not be complicit in those actions,” Sanders said in a speech to the plenary session.
“Don’t count on me to support that,” Sanders said.
The new package proposes an additional $61 billion for Ukraine, mainly for the purchase of weapons from the United States.