Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, D.C., Tuesday failed to win over skeptical lawmakers, who are weary of sending more money abroad to fund a war effort that appears to have stalled.

The high-profile visit marked a stark contrast to Zelenskyy’s glorified appearance last December, when he addressed a joint session of Congress. This time, some senators reportedly didn’t even stick around to hear his one-hour pitch.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a vocal supporter of Ukraine funding, admitted it was “practically impossible” to act before Christmas, according to The Hill.

Zelenskyy’s decision to visit Capitol Hill and the White House comes amid conservatives’ demands for strong border security measures to be paired with additional Ukraine funding.

President Joe Biden is asking for $60 billion more to fund Ukraine’s war effort against Russia. Since the February 2022 invasion, Congress has approved $113 billion at a cost of $900 per American household. Their generosity, however, appears to be waning. A recent Morning Consult poll found just 41% support for sending more money to Ukraine.

Conservatives in the House and Senate want to attach the Secure the Border Act (HR 2) to Biden’s funding request to address the worsening border crisis in the United States.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the perilous invitation the Biden White House continues to freely give out to break our immigration laws,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday.

Cruz introduced an amendment to the supplemental spending bill that mirrors the Secure the Border Act. He called it the “most comprehensive border security legislation in decades.” The measure passed the House, 219-213, with all but two Republicans voting in favor of it.

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The Biden administration, however, opposes the Secure the Border Act. In a May statement, it claimed the legislation would make “elements of our immigration system worse.”

According to Cruz, his amendment “would provide physical and technological border improvements, manpower assistance to Border Patrol and ICE Enforcement Removal Operations, and protection to families seeking entry at the border as well as unaccompanied alien children.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., reiterated his opposition to Ukraine funding that wasn’t paired with the Secure the Border Act.

“These are our conditions because these are the conditions of the American people,” Johnson said. “And we are resolute on that. It is not the House’s issue right now. The issue is with the White House and the Senate, and I implore them to do their job because the time is urgent and we do want to do the right thing.”

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Dwindling public support for Ukraine funding has prompted pro-war pundits to shift their tactics. Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a full-page, 2,000-word column Nov. 29 arguing the “best-kept secret” about U.S. funding for Ukraine is that it’s benefited defense contractors in America.

Thiessen’s column prompted a sharp rebuke from Sens. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, who said it didn’t justify another “blank check.”

“War is not a business venture, and the United States is more than just an economy,” the senators wrote in a Washington Post letter to the editor. “We are a nation with discrete geopolitical objectives and security priorities.”

Tuberville and Vance said U.S. production of weapons wasn’t grounds for supporting more Ukraine funding. They warned that Biden’s request would continue to drain America’s stockpiles and prolong the war.

“Ukraine aid proponents have failed to secure victory or end the conflict,” they wrote. “This failure has come at great cost to U.S. taxpayers and to the Ukrainian people. Mr. Zelenskyy’s senior officials admit the war has reached an intractable stalemate and that hundreds of billions in foreign aid has fueled rampant corruption. The failure machine must be stopped.”

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