(WASHINGTON) — The political clash on Capitol Hill over Ukraine aid will be front and center when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with lawmakers in Washington later this week.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he has questions for the Ukrainian president when asked if he plans to commit to another round of aid.
“Is Zelenskyy 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 told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott.
“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,” McCarthy added.
Ukraine funding is a key point of intraparty strife as Congress barrels toward a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a spending measure or enter a government shutdown.
The White House has asked for an additional $24 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invaders — a request backed by congressional Democrats.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has publicly advocated for continued defense and financial assistance. But McCarthy is more skeptical, and a growing number of House Republican hard-liners are adamantly opposed to sending more money to the war-torn nation.
McCarthy has repeatedly said the United States should not be giving Ukraine a “blank check” though has vehemently criticized Russia’s actions.
“Look what Russia has done — invade — is wrong,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “It’s an atrocity, we want to make sure that ends. I also have always said from the beginning, no matter what the issue is, I want accountability for whatever the hardworking taxpayers spend their money on. I want to plan for victory. So no, I will listen to the American public. I will follow what happens in Congress, but I will have questions for President Zelenskyy.”
Zelenskyy will arrive in Washington after his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
He’s scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House and visit Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Biden, in his speech at the United Nations gathering on Tuesday, urged world leaders to stand by Ukraine as the war stretches on.
“We have to stand up to this naked aggression today, and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow. That’s why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom,” Biden said to applause.
Zelenskyy was able to secure more funding — $50 billion — when he was last in Washington. The dramatic visit made last December was his first known trip outside Ukraine since the war began.
Speaking to a packed joint session of Congress, Zelenskyy delivered an plea for additional help with weapons and financial assistance. He told lawmakers the “money is not charity.”
“It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way,” he said to cheers.
ABC’s Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.
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