Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy rejected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to address a joint session of Congress. After this news went viral on social media, he was heavily criticized online as a number of people accused him of siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a result of his decision.
Zelensky is in Washington, D.C. to meet with President Joe Biden and other members of the Congress. The Ukrainian president, who addressed the United Nations on Tuesday, asked to speak before both chambers of Congress, a request McCarthy declined.
“President Zelensky asked for a joint session. We just didn’t have time. He’s already given a joint session [address],” McCarthy said, referring to Zelensky’s previous visit to the U.S. last year. “So what we’re doing for Zelensky is exactly the same thing we did for the prime minister of the U.K., the prime minister of Italy. We’ll put a bipartisan group of members together to meet with him, no different than we did with anybody else. And this is a little busy week. We’re dealing with the funding issue. I don’t know how we could slip that in such a short time.”
Here are some reactions to McCarthy’s decision:
Apart from McCarthy, Zelensky met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. A senator meeting with the Zelenskyy was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Thursday. Ahead of the meeting, McCarthy told reporters he wanted to see whether the Ukrainian president had a strategy to win. “I think a lot of people have the question … what’s the strategy to win? Accountability — they want to make sure the resources are going to the right place,” McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.
McCarthy’s decision was in line with Republican lawmakers being vocal about their opposition to giving further aid to Ukraine. Over two dozen GOP lawmakers have signed a letter demanding further transparency about the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and how the funds being given from the US to Kiev are being used.