“Finalizing the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical for supporting our friends in Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, according to the AP.

Sen. Josh Hawley Calls Zelenskyy Speech “Photo Op” Demands Accountability On Spending

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri didn't mince words when it came to being absent from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri didn’t mince words when it came to being absent from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

“I didn’t go to the speech, because I didn’t want to be part of a photo op asking for more money from the United States government when they have not given us a single piece of accounting on anything they spent,” Hawley said.

Zelenskyy spoke before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night following a visit to the White House with President Biden.

The visit came as lawmakers are voting on a year-end spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and as the U.S. prepares to send Patriot surface-to-air missiles to the country to help stave off Russia’s invasion.

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Zelenskyy called the U.S. aid to the county “an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

The bill is Congress’ largest assistance package for Ukraine to date, following a $40 billion package signed into law in May, a $12 billion supplement in September, and $800 million authorized in Congress’ defense spending budget, bringing the total anticipated support for Ukraine in 2022 to nearly $100 billion, according to the Associated Press.

This number exceeds President Joe Biden’s $37 billion request for military, economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine despite some Republican opposition to offering a “blank check” to Ukraine.

Some Republicans that did attend Zelenskyy’s speech, such as Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, refused to applaud, pointing to past corruption by the Ukrainian government.

Other Republicans opposed the spending on Ukraine, saying that country’s war with Russia was “not an American” problem.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia introduced legislation calling for an audit of funds provided to Ukraine.

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“I’m worried about putting us deeper in debt and worried about the American public,” Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Minority Leader, said. “They always come first.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and has repeatedly fired barrages of missiles at targets in the country. The United States sent at least $52 billion in aid, in addition to another $45 billion in the $1.7 trillion omnibus legislation passed by the Senate Thursday.

The Biden administration announced the United States would give Ukraine a battery of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missiles Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. The system consists of a AN/MPQ-53 radar and as many as eight launchers, each with four missiles, according to Designation-Systems.net.

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