‘We’ll get it done,’ McCaul says of Ukraine aid after Zelensky meeting 

The top House Republican overseeing U.S. foreign affairs said Congress will provide more funding for Ukraine to fight off the Russian invasion despite GOP pushback, after a Thursday meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also proposed legislating that the U.S. provide F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine and long-range missiles that the Biden administration has held back on providing.

“We need to give ’em everything they need. And if this administration won’t give it to them, then I submitted that we write in our appropriations bill, we write the weapons that he [Zelensky]  asked for, that this administration won’t give,” McCaul told reporters, adding that senior Democratic lawmakers agreed with his proposal.

President Biden has approved partner countries to provide American-made F16s to Ukraine but has not yet committed sending them from U.S. stockpiles. The administration has also so far refused to send Ukraine Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which have a range of nearly 190 miles. 

The president has submitted to Congress a request for $24 billion in additional funding that would go toward military, economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine. It is opposed by a minority group of Republicans with the power to frustrate efforts to pass additional assistance quickly, given tight margins in the House and Senate rules.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a staunch critic of foreign assistance for Ukraine, has vowed to hold up any government funding bill that includes Ukrainian assistance. 

Paul was also signatory to a letter led by Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) this week laying out specific asks of the Biden administration before greenlighting additional assistance to Ukraine, signed by 28 members of the House and Senate.

“Certainly until we receive answers to the questions above and others forthcoming—we oppose the additional expenditure for war in Ukraine included in your request,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. 

The letter was published ahead of Zelensky’s arrival on Capitol Hill for meetings Thursday morning. He will meet with President Biden at the White House in the afternoon.

It is the Ukrainian president’s second visit to the capitol in a year, but he is receiving a chillier reception under the Republican-controlled House. In Dec. 2022, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) invited Zelensky to address a joint session of Congress, an invitation that was not extended by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

McCarthy organized the House meeting with Zelensky Thursday morning, but it was only open to a select number of lawmakers at the invitation of the Speaker and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

The Ukrainian president arrived to his meeting around 9 a.m., walking past reporters with Jeffries. 

McCaul, asked if it was a poor signal for McCarthy to not accompany Zelensky into the meeting, pivoted to criticizing the pace of Biden’s response to the war.

“The Speaker, like me, has shown strong support, but we’re frustrated with the administration’s slowness in the weapons, and the Speaker and I agreed with Zelensky, who — he has to be nice ’cause we’re giving him things. But we said, what do you need? And you know, the takeaway with the Speaker was you need ATACMS, you need the F-16s, you need them a year ago,” McCaul said.

“It’s taken too long. So we can write this into the supplemental. And that would be my intention.”

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