Speaker Kevin McCarthy has rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to address House members during his visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Faced with a rebellion within his ranks from the right wing and growing resistance within the GOP to financial support for Ukraine, McCarthy did not consider it to be a prudent time to showcase the former funnyman-turned-president before a joint session of Congress.
While McCarthy is slated to have a private meeting with Zelensky, his decision to forgo a gathering where the Ukrainian president could directly appeal to rank-and-file legislators highlights the significant divisions among Republicans regarding ongoing U.S. support for Kyiv in its struggle against the Russian invasion.
This also underscores McCarthy’s own precarious position as he becomes a target of criticism from the right wing over federal spending and increased threats to remove him unless he embraces their priorities, including cutting off financial aid to Ukraine.
This situation contrasts with the reception Zelensky is receiving in the Senate, where Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader from New York, has organized a closed-door session in the Capitol for all 100 senators.
Members of the House interested in hearing from Zelensky will need to leave Capitol Hill; those from the Congressional Ukraine Caucus and other representatives are expected to meet with him at the National Archives on Thursday.
Zelensky’s arrival coincides with the opposition of numerous Republicans to President Biden’s recent appeal for an additional $24 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine’s conflict.