House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Rejects Invitation From Zelenskyy: 'I Won't Provide a Blank Check'
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has rejected an invitation from the president of embattled Ukraine to visit the country, saying such a visit would not impact his “no blanks checks” position on Ukrainian aid.
“I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN Wednesday.
The California Republican’s own party is divided over whether to continue supplying aid to Ukraine, and if so, how much.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy apparently believes that a visit to the impacts of the war first-hand would help push the speaker to support more aid.
“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,” Zelenskyy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “And then after that, make your assumptions.”
“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelenskyy said.
McCarthy, however, reiterated his position: He supports Ukraine, but will not support writing the country a “blank check.”
The fact that the spending of all U.S. aid to Ukraine is overseen by the federal government, as CNN pointed out, does not seem to mollify the House speaker. (CNN’s Clare Foran provided no details regarding how that spending is overseen, or how effective that oversight might be in a literal war zone.)
“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,” he added. “And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”
In his interview with Blitzer, Zelenskyy expressed his support for the “bipartisan support of Ukraine” in Congress, calling it “very important.”
However, he added: “We don’t care about the side of the support as long as it’s powerful and constant.”
McCarthy previous told CNN that “he does not support a resolution from GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida declaring congressional ‘fatigue’ over supporting Ukraine.”
However, he has also said that did not intend to act as a “rubber stamp” for Ukrainian aid packages requested by the White House.
President Joe Biden visited Ukraine in an unannounced trip on Feb. 20 to express solidarity and see for himself the effects of what he called “a brutal and unjust war.”
The visit, and Zelenskyy’s newest round of campaigning for greater aid, come as experts expect the war in Ukraine to heat up with new spring offensives.
In particular, Zelenskyy has been seeking western fighter jets, which the Biden administration has — so far — refused to provide.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. has provided $76.8 billion to Ukraine so far in the form of humanitarian aid, financial support and loans, and military and security assistance.
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