Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy canceled plans to directly video link with US lawmakers to urge them to approve aid for his country, as a partisan battle over US immigration policies threatens to undermine the President’s bid Joe Biden for billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.
Republicans and Democrats have debated for weeks in the Senate and House of Representatives over Mr. Biden’s request in October that Congress approve a $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and funding to increase U.S. border security. United with Mexico and American interests in the Indo-Pacific.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, said funding for Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian aggression since February 2022, should be tied to a “transformative change” in US immigration policy.
The Democratic-controlled Senate presented a $110.5 billion bill that addresses the president’s request. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would try to break the impasse by offering Republicans the chance to add a cap amendment to the Ukraine and Israel aid bill.
“…it was the Republicans who raised the border issue. It is their responsibility if they believe that the border issue should be linked to the aid package for Ukraine. Let them propose an amendment that can get 60 votes,” Mr. Schumer said at a press conference.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spoke shortly after Mr. Schumer proposed the amendment, said he would urge Senate Republicans to vote against the Democratic-backed bill.
“We are serious about making significant changes to the way we protect our southern border as part of the whole package,” Mr McConnell said. “I hope all of our members vote against it,” said Republican McConnell.
Members of the House and Senate attended closed-door briefings with senior officials of President Biden’s administration, where Mr. Zelenskyi was also expected to speak via video link. But Senator Schumer announced that the Ukrainian leader was unable to attend.
“Something happened at the last minute,” Mr. Schumer told reporters.
The senators said that their meeting was accompanied by harsh notes. Mr Schumer said a lawmaker, whom he did not identify, had shouted at one of the top generals.