UPDATE: Joan McCarter
President Zelenskyy is unable to attend the classified briefings, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. National security staff and Stefanchuk will still brief members.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is providing a classified video briefing to senators Tuesday in a bid to convince them to support the supplemental funding bill coming to the floor as soon as Wednesday that includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine. While Zelenskyy is speaking with senators, Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, will meet personally with members of the House and Senate.
They face an uphill battle. House Speaker Mike Johnson countered the White House’s letter sent Monday warning that time and money is running out for Ukraine assistance with a missive of his own. Further assistance to Ukraine, he wrote, is "dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws." He remains insistent that it’s the House’s racist immigration bill or nothing.
That’s the kind of digging in that could doom Ukraine, and unfortunately it’s been embraced by some Senate Republicans, like Sen. John Cornyn. He and his fellow Republicans are not actually negotiating this, he told NBC News. There’s no “negotiation” about it. “I think there’s a misunderstanding on the part of Senator Schumer and some of our Democratic friends,” Cornyn said. “This is not a traditional negotiation, where we expect to come up with a bipartisan compromise on the border. This is a price that has to be paid in order to get the supplemental.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seized on that statement Tuesday morning. “What that Republican said, Mr. President, is the textbook definition of hostage-taking,” he said in his floor speech opening the session. “If funding for Ukraine fails, the failure will solely be on the Republican Party.”