McCarthy Denies Zelensky Opportunity To Address Joint Session Of Congress
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy (L) departs for the US Senate after a meeting with members of the House of Representatives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in September 21, 2023.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Thursday he denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s request to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress.

“Zelensky asked for a joint session. We just didn’t have time. He’s already given a joint session,” McCarthy said, according to Axios.

Zelensky, who last delivered a joint address in December, is back in Washington, D.C., to muster support for more U.S. aid for Ukraine‘s fight against Russian invaders. The visit is part of Zelensky’s latest appeal to the international community, which included a speech to the United Nations earlier this week.

President Joe Biden has asked Congress for roughly $24 billion in additional military and humanitarian assistance tied to the Ukraine conflict on top of the roughly $113 billion previously allocated.

Some Republicans in the House and Senate are opposing the president’s request, demanding answers on the money being spent and progress in the war.

At the moment, McCarthy is contending with a group of GOP defectors in a spending fight that could lead to a government shutdown if a deal cannot be reached by the end of the month. He also announced last week an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

Though he denied Zelensky a larger forum, McCarthy did meet privately with the Ukrainian leader on Thursday with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and other top members of the House. They even posed for photos.

Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News reported that McCarthy said Zelensky answered many of his questions during the meeting, but the speaker remained noncommittal about the aid package sought by the Biden administration.


Zelensky also participated in a closed-door meeting with senators at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday and delivered brief remarks while flanked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

McConnell delivered remarks on Wednesday criticizing Biden for his “passive, indecisive leadership” on the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The minority leader also declared that he “would continue to make the case, myself, for sustained support of the Ukrainian cause – not out of charity, but out of primary focus on America’s interests.”

Biden is expected to meet with Zelensky later in the day on Thursday.

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