Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declined a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to address Congress Thursday, saying there was not enough time.
“Zelensky asked us for a joint session; we just didn’t have time,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to videos of the exchange.
The comments come as the House is struggling to advance funding bills with a deadline looming at the end of the month and with continued financial support for Ukraine one of the sticking points among conservatives.
Zelensky, who addressed a joint session of Congress during his last visit in December, traveled to Washington Thursday to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as he seeks to shore up support for more U.S. aid in the fight against Russia.
While the entire Senate met with Zelensky in the Old Senate Chamber, only a select few House leaders attended a meeting on the other side of Capitol Hill.
McCarthy said the Zelensky meeting was no different than previous ones the House has held with foreign leaders.
“What we’re doing for Zelensky is the exactly the same thing we did for the prime minister of the U.K., the prime minister of Italy,” he said.
Approved U.S. aid for Ukraine is running out fast, and Congress will soon need to approve another package.
President Biden has requested $24 billion in additional funding, but there remains no clear path to passing a supplemental in Congress at the moment, which is currently ensnared in a crisis to keep the government funded.
Zelensky is also meeting Thursday with leaders at the Pentagon and with Biden in the White House.