Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that this week is “not a good time” for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit to Capitol Hill.
“The first thing I’ll tell you is there’s no money in the House right now for Ukraine. It’s not there,” he told reporters in a video posted by The Recount on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Zelensky is expected to meet with congressional leadership and a limited number of lawmakers Thursday during a visit to Washington. The wartime leader delivered a speech to the United Nations in New York City on Tuesday warning the Russia would expand its fight if it’s not stopped in Ukraine.
Donalds is part of a Republican minority wing that has consistently opposed Ukraine funding. On Tuesday, he pointed to the U.S. deficit as reason for not wanting to send additional aid to Ukraine, and blamed President Biden for the war.
“To be blunt, we’re running a $2 trillion deficit. Any money we give to Ukraine, we’re borrowing from our future. That’s the facts,” he said.
This will be Zelensky’s second time visiting Washington since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. During his first visit, in December 2022, he delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress, when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.
His visit this week comes amid growing skepticism among Republican lawmakers over additional aid to Ukraine, and as the House GOP struggles to agree on a stopgap measure to keep the government funded amid ongoing spending negotiations.
The White House asked Congress to attach supplemental funding for Ukraine, along with disaster relief and border security spending, to a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government. A GOP-backed proposal was put forward Sunday night but did not include additional funding for Ukraine.
“What’s happened with Ukraine is frankly the fault of leadership of Joe Biden,” Donalds said. “Let’s be very clear of that. So don’t put that on the backs of the American people. Now, if we had a commander in chief who knew how to lead as opposed to take naps, then we will be in a much better situation when it comes to Ukraine and global security for that matter.”
Biden delivered his own speech at the U.N. on Tuesday, offering a call to action for the U.S. and its allies to stick with Ukraine for the long haul.
“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence,” Biden said. “But I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the U.N. Charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state feel confident that they are protected?”
“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” he added. “I respectfully suggest the answer is no. We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”