President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is to address the Senate on Tuesday during a classified meeting on the war in his country, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Monday. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 4 (UPI) -- President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will speak to U.S. senators via secure video as part of a classified briefing on the war in Europe on Tuesday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said, as the White House pressures Congress to pass its supplemental aid package for the besieged ally.
Schumer announced that he extended the Biden administration's invitation to Zelensky on Monday while speaking from the Senate floor. The New York Democrat said the invitation was made so Zelensky could inform all senators directly about "what's at stake."
"I ask that all senators -- all senators -- attend this important briefing," he said.
For months, the Biden administration has warned that Congress-approved funding for Ukraine's defense against Russia was near spent, and in late October, President Joe Biden unveiled a $106 billion supplemental aid package.
That package includes $61 billion for Ukraine and $50 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense base across Europe and the wider region.
The White House has argued that the package advances national security and supports allies and partners at a time when autocrats and dictators threaten democracy worldwide, as spending for Ukraine has received pushback from House Republicans who hold a slight majority in their chamber of Congress.
Earlier Monday, Shalanda Young, director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, sent House Speaker Mike Johnson a letter to express the urgency of the moment "as Congress weighs whether we continue to fight for freedom across the globe or we ignore the lessons we have learned from history and let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and autocracy prevail."
Schumer also hit on the exigencies of the moment, stating that he urges "every senator to think where we are at this moment in history" as they contemplate their stance on the supplemental package.
"America's national security is on the line around the world -- in Europe, in the Middle East, in the Indo-Pacific. Autocrats, dictators are waging war against democracy, against our values, against our way of life," he said. "That's why passing this supplemental is so important. It could determine the trajectory of democracy for years to come. We are at a moment in history."
Schumer on Monday also filed cloture on a motion to proceed on a shell bill for the supplemental aid package.
Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at his headquarters after the first round of presidential elections in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 31, 2019. Zelensky won that round of the Ukraine presidential election with 30.4% of votes. Photo by Stepan Franko/EPA-EFE