Despite spending turmoil in Congress, Sullivan projects optimism on Ukraine aid

Last updated on September 21, 2023

National security adviser Jake Sullivan predicted Thursday that Congress will eventually approve additional aid for Ukraine, even as Congress is not publicly projecting that optimism.

“I continue to remain of the view, that when all is said and done, after all the back and forth and the to-ing and fro-ing and all the other elements going into these negotiations that have nothing to do with Ukraine, that there will be strong bipartisan support to continue funding Ukraine,” Sullivan said during a White House briefing.

“Republicans in both the House and Senate in very large numbers have been strong advocates and supporters for this,” Sullivan said. “And it is that level of bipartisan support that we’ve seen to date that has sustained the immense and impressive levels of assistance that we’ve been able to provide to Ukraine.”

However, Congressional dysfunction has complicated the matter. In the House, far-right opposition has made passing any kind of spending legislation nearly impossible. And in the Senate, there is strong Republican support for military assistance, but some legislators oppose further humanitarian aid, arguing that Ukraine’s European neighbors should be stepping up.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with lawmakers and make the case for additional military and humanitarian assistance. He did not take questions after the meetings on what — if any — commitments he secured from Speaker Kevin McCarthy on aid for his defense against Russia, or other subjects.

Zelenskyy was set to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House Thursday afternoon.

Sullivan also told reporters that Biden would announce a new military assistance package for Ukraine later Thursday. The package would not include the long-range ATACMS missile system, he said, but did not rule it out as a future possibility.