House Speaker McCarthy Snubs Zelensky After Invitation To Visit Ukraine
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy snubbed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after the latter issued a personal invitation to visit Ukraine in order to gain a first-hand look at the situation. This also as GOP support to Kiev has generally been seen as waning in enthusiasm of late.
"Mr. McCarthy, he has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here.... Then after that, make your assumptions," Zelensky said in a CNN interview which aired Wednesday.
He continued, "Mr. McCarthy, he has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions," in words given to Wolf Blitzer. "I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position," Zelensky emphasized.
But the GOP leader told the same outlet that he doesn't need to travel to Ukraine to gain information, saying, "I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it."
Greater skepticism over Biden's Ukraine aid policy has been on the rise among Republican Congressional members, also reflective of their base according to polls, with McCarthy having taken a stand against "a blank check" approach to arming and assisting Ukraine.
McCarthy's rejection of the Ukrainian president's invitation included a firm reiteration of his position on the unprecedented foreign aid:
"Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not," McCarthy told CNN. "I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything."
As Reuters also notes, "The invitation came as the United States wrestled with a budget deficit and the prospect of possibly hitting its debt limit in coming months." It adds, "Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden is set to unveil his budget proposal on Thursday."
Speaker McCarthy turns down President Zelensky’s offer to visit Kiev. “Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks. Okay? So, from that perspective, I don't have to go to Ukraine to understand where there's a blank check or not,” he told me pic.twitter.com/9vaKPFqyQQ— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 9, 2023
Kiev thinks it can sway the House Speaker once he is on the ground in country, but apparently he's fully aware he'd be walking into an onslaught of Ukrainian lobbying efforts and emotional scenes designed to fully change his mind. The number of American government officials who have made the trip, including President Biden himself recently, has been unprecedented in terms of a steady revolving door of officials arriving for photo ops and meetings with Ukrainian counterparts.