Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was one of the first to congratulate Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on his election to become Congress’s top officer Friday night on the 15th vote conducted in the House. Zelensky told McCarthy that he is counting on his “continued support” and more contributions of U.S. foreign aid dollars.
Zelensky tweeted: “We’re counting on your continued support and further U.S. assistance to bring our common victory closer.”
McCarthy replaced Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after a four-day voting marathon. The new Speaker lost 14 consecutive votes before finally convincing the final Republican holdouts against his candidacy to vote “present” to provide him with the needed majority of all votes cast to win.
The 15 ballots were the most needed to elect a Speaker since before the Civil War and marked the first time in a century that more than a single vote was required.
McCarthy has been a mixed bag on Zelensky and the billions upon billions of dollars the U.S. has given to the Ukrainian government since Russia invaded in February 2022.
He has been less of an outright promoter of supporting the Ukrainian government and military than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The top Senate Republican said a month ago that “providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the number one priority for the United States right now according to most Republicans.”
Apparently, McConnell believes most Republican voters consider supporting the Zelensky government a more important issue than surging inflation, the ongoing border crisis, violent crime, and providing children with proper education.
In the days before the midterm elections last November, McCarthy said Americans would not tolerate “writing a blank check to Ukraine” if the U.S. economy were in a recession.
However, McCarthy enthusiastically appeared on the floor of Congress last month when Zelensky addressed lawmakers. As Zelensky handed a Ukrainian flag that Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris joyously held up, McCarthy wore a Ukrainian flag pin and a pocket square with that flag as a motif.
Since the Russian invasion began, the U.S. has sent at least $100 billion of American taxpayer funds to Zelensky’s government. The aid has been in the form of military equipment, weapons and cash for Zelensky to use to keep his government functioning.
Meanwhile, Zelensky appears dissatisfied with the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles the U.S. has given him. He has said there is “no rational reason why” he has not been provided with American M1 Abrams tanks.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has said that the amount already sent to Ukraine amounts to “more than $200 million from each Congressional district.”