After delivering an impassioned speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky heads to Washington this week, just as the city ties itself in knots ahead of an increasingly likely government shutdown. During his last visit, in December, Zelensky delivered a moving address before a joint session of Congress. This time, there will be no prime-time tear-jerkers, just closed-door meetings on the House and Senate sides, and a few more down the street, at the White House, as well as with Lloyd Austin and Chairman Mark Milley. (Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska will speak at Georgetown on Thursday afternoon.)
It is on the Hill, though, that Zelensky will run face-first into the increasingly grim politics of getting more U.S. funding for Ukraine. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Americans are growing weary of spending more and more money on what is, essentially, Ukraine’s war of independence, but the polling paints a more complex picture. Last month, a CNN poll suggested that a majority of Americans do not want Congress to authorize more aid and about half said the U.S. was doing too much.
But, as one commentator pointed out, that majority was slim (54 percent), and half of Americans did support both more congressionally authorized funding and doing more to support Ukraine. Earlier this month, a CBS poll showed even stronger support: More than two-thirds wanted to keep sending “aid and supplies” to Ukraine, and over half wanted to send weapons. About a quarter even wanted to send U.S. troops to Ukraine, a remarkable sentiment given that the war has been grinding on for more than 18 months and that the U.S. has just gotten out of two endless wars.