Biden invites Zelensky to the White House amid domestic crisis over aid to Ukraine

Washington, Dec 10 (EFE) – US President Joe Biden announced on Sunday that he had invited his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to the White House for a meeting next Tuesday to underscore his administration’s “unshakeable commitment” to Kiev.

“As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

At the meeting, which comes as US-approved funds for Ukraine are about to run out, the Biden administration will show its “unshakeable commitment to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Russia’s brutal invasion,” she said.

On Dec. 6, Republicans in the US Senate blocked passage of a roughly $105 billion spending bill that included earmarks to support Ukraine and Israel.

In exchange for their votes, the conservative caucus is demanding restrictions on US immigration laws, particularly the asylum system, and the elimination of a number of humanitarian permits for migrants.

A budget extension was passed in November, and lawmakers have until February to negotiate a budget for fiscal year 2024, which has already begun.

But the White House warned on Monday that by the end of the year, the US government will run out of money to support Ukraine and will run out of funds to buy more weapons and equipment for Kiev.

With less than a week to go before the US Congress leaves for its Christmas break, Zelensky’s visit will be key to pressuring Congress on the need for swift action.

To date, the US has provided $111 billion in aid to Ukraine.

The bill, which was rejected on Wednesday by the 49 Republican senators in the upper chamber, includes more than $61 billion in military aid for Kiev and about $14 billion for Israel.

According to Senate Conservative Caucus leader Mitch MacConell, his party will not support any budget package unless it includes immigration restrictions.

“As we’ve said for weeks, legislation that doesn’t include policy changes to secure our borders will not pass the Senate,” the senator said on the day of the vote.

Democrats, for their part, have insisted that continued support for Ukraine and Israel is of vital importance. In a speech that same Wednesday, Biden even signaled that he was willing to make “significant concessions” on immigration issues in exchange for funding.

Republican demands include changing the law that allows a person to apply for asylum on US soil and setting higher standards for those seeking protection, according to leaks to the US media about the negotiations.

Conservatives are also demanding to limit the use of parole, a legal figure that allows immigration authorities to allow people to enter the country for humanitarian reasons. EFE


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