McCarthy rejected Zelensky’s request to address Congress during visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill today. He was not granted his request to address a joint session of Congress by Speaker McCarthy.

McCarthy justified his denial of Zelensky’s request by saying there just isn’t time to do that right now, what with the looming government shutdown and all. There was some question whether or not McCarthy would meet with Zelensky but he did. We know why he wanted to address Congress – he wants more aid for Ukraine in its war to defend itself against Putin’s invasion. Zelensky met with a bipartisan group of House leaders and is relying on his supporters in Congress to persuade Republicans to give him more aid.

Zelensky didn’t make any comments to reporters as he left the meeting, led by Speaker McCarthy an House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. McCarthy said he heard “a lot of positive things” in the meeting. “I thought it was direct, I thought it was honest,” McCarthy said. “[Zelensky] answered the questions directly that I think a lot of members were requesting.”

A growing number of House Republicans are expressing opposition to voting in favor of more aid to Ukraine. Most say we should be securing our own border and dealing with the federal budget needs. Republicans are rightly asking for accountability to the billions of dollars in financial and military equipment aid already given to Ukraine.

Zelensky delivered a dire message to a bipartisan group of senators. He said, “If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war.’ That is what Chuck Schumer reported. “There was a single sentence that summed it all up, and I’m quoting him verbatim.”

Zelenskyy himself briefly told reporters that he had a “great dialogue” with members and said he was thankful to Congress for helping and supporting his embattled nation in its war against Russia.

“We spoke about too many details, but it will be between us,” he said. “Sorry.”

Wednesday in New York, Zelensky spoke to top business leaders about rebuilding Ukraine with the help of private funding assistance.

The meeting, which was organized by JPMorgan Chase executive Mary Erdoes, was secretly held at Ukraine’s mission to the United Nations in New York City and featured a who’s-who of financial leaders; Citadel hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Blackstone Inc. President Jon Gray were all in attendance, according to Bloomberg.

Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who earlier this year pledged $3.25 million to help buy 15 ambulances for Ukraine, was also in attendance.

They were joined by Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, people briefed on the meeting told Bloomberg. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who initially suggested Ukraine sacrifice territory to Russia before changing his position, was also reportedly in attendance.

The Ukrainian president also met with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink earlier in the afternoon, according to Fox Business. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has been advising Ukraine’s efforts to create an investment fund to restore the nation’s economy through both public and private capital.

Never fear, Joe Biden is offering more aid to Zelensky during their meeting this afternoon, according to Jake Sullivan.

As part of the meeting, Biden will announce a new package of military assistance, including “significant air defense capabilities to help Ukraine protect its people,” which the White House official said, “will help Ukraine harden its defenses ahead of what is likely to be a tough winter, filled with renewed Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure.”

The US will not be providing Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine, however, Sullivan said — despite requests from Ukraine.

“The president is constantly speaking both to his own military and to his counterparts in Europe and to the Ukrainians themselves about what is needed on the battlefield at any given phase of the war and then what the United States can provide,” Sullivan said. “As he’s weighed all that up to today, he has determined that he would not provide ATACMS, but he is also not taking it off the table in the future.”

The timing of Zelensky’s visit was not good on Capitol Hill. Factions of the Republican Party are split over continued support of Ukraine. Biden promises help as long as it takes, whatever that means.

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