Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) took a shot at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on social media before skipping his speech on Capitol Hill, joining other Republicans in an apparent boycott of the wartime leader’s address.
“I’m in DC but I will not be attending the speech of the Ukrainian lobbyist,” Massie wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday, minutes before the Ukrainian leader thanked lawmakers for providing US military aid to Ukraine.
“It is not charity. Charity would be given freely. The American taxpayers have been conscripted into making welfare payments to this foreign government,” Massie said of the billions of dollars in aid sent to Ukraine as it fights off Russian invaders.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Josh Hawley (R-Mos.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — who have also openly questioned the need for more US aid for Ukraine — reportedly were not in attendance for Zelensky’s remarks either, according to NBC News reporter Julie Tsirkin.
Right-wing firebrand Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) did not applaud as Zelensky entered the chamber to a rousing standing ovation from the vast majority of lawmakers in attendance, according to multiple reports.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday had asked “all Members to be physically present at our session Wednesday night” in anticipation of Zelensky’s address.
Zelensky spoke as lawmakers deliberated on providing an additional $45 billion in Ukraine aid as part of a $1.7 trillion spending bill, which must pass by Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown.
“The Russian tyranny has lost control over us,” Zelensky declared as he thanked lawmakers for their support of Ukraine as it battles Russian aggression.