Zelenskyy to Meet with Leaders in Washington Tuesday

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to meet with President Joe Biden and leaders of Congress on Tuesday as more than $60 billion in aid for his country remains stuck in a partisan jam on Capitol Hill. 

Tuesday will be Zelenskyy’s third visit to Washington since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. 

Aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, have all been stalled over border and immigration policies. The Senate failed to move the national security supplemental funding bill last week after bipartisan border talks broke down. 

Time is running out and optimism for getting the job finished before the new year is running low. 

“We’re still a ways out,” said Dr. Todd Belt, Professor and Director of the Political Management Master’s Program at George Washington University. “I think compromise is going to be difficult to find,” Belt added. 

Republicans in Congress are looking for border improvements – not just more money to be sent there, but also policy changes, such as amnesty rules. Belt says finding compromise will be difficult on such a short timeline, especially in the narrowly divided House. 

“You can probably get compromise in the Senate where you have more moderate members. But when you go to the House, that margin for Republicans is only three. That means if you have three really hardcore supporters for H.R. 2, which is the Republican version of what they want to do at the border, and would take nothing else, then that means you have to bring over Democrats,” said Belt. “If you bring over Democrats, then we see Speaker Johnson in the same position that we saw Speaker McCarthy, and that cost him his Speakership,” Belt added. 

In recent weeks, Democrats have called GOP border demands extremely partisan, and legislation like H.R. 2, a “non-starter.”  

Some Democrats have expressed interest to find what they call “reasonable, bipartisan border solutions.” Belt says the Biden Administration has also “expressed interest in addressing certain border policies,” but adds that Republicans might be skeptical to give the President any major legislative victories, especially relating to immigration. 

“There’s also a political element here. The Republicans really want to beat Biden over the head next year with the issue of immigration. But if they give him a legislative victory on this, then that sort of takes away from them,” said Belt.