Cantwell: Congress on aiding Ukraine, equal pay for US sports teams
Members of Washington’s Congressional delegation were on hand Wednesday night as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went before Congress to express his gratitude for America’s support during their war with Russia.
Washington state Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell was among those who shook Zelenskyy’s hand as he approached the dais.
From all accounts, this was Zelenskyy’s first trip outside Ukraine since the war began.
He flew on a U.S. Air Force jet with the highest level of secrecy and security.
“He gave a great speech,” Senator Cantwell said regarding her first impression of Zelenskyy’s address to a joint session of Congress. “It was very heartfelt, and I think he even got a rousing standing ovation before he even started.”
Senator Cantwell says from what she could gather, the support of the Ukrainian leader crossed party lines.
“My colleagues, for the most part –maybe there was one or two [who disagreed], really believe in what he has stood up for, what the Ukrainian people have stood up for, and his fight against Russian aggression,” Cantwell said.
Since the war began, the U.S. has provided tens of billions of dollars in economic aid and U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. Add to that, $1.85 billion to fund a battery of Patriot surface-to-air missiles just approved by the Biden Administration.
Congress is expected to vote this week on a new spending package of emergency assistance for Ukraine to the tune of another $45 billion.
As Republicans are about to take control of the U.S. House, there is a growing number of lawmakers who say enough is enough.
They’re concerned about the economic situation here at home, especially when so many Americans have had the wind knocked out of them by inflation and interest rate hikes.
“We’re trying to pass an omnibus budget that has support,” Cantwell said. “There are some people in Congress who want to continue to support Ukrainians. I continue to support this legislation and hope to get it passed. That was part of President Zelenskyy’s message; that he, too, hoped that it would get passed.”
At this time, Cantwell says she believes approving the aid has global importance.
“The United States has been very careful in this process, to be supportive of the alliance, that is, a world alliance against Russia’s aggression. And yes, it’s a very hard line. But, I support the actions we’ve taken thus far,” Cantwell said.
Another huge victory for Sen. Cantwell was Wednesday when the House approved a bill she co-sponsored, ensuring equal pay and care for female and male amateur athletes on Team USA and in the Olympics.
“It basically will set a standard that has to be followed. Congress will be overseeing to make sure that these rules are enforced,” she said. “And, we’re just very happy that we’re setting the standard that women can get equal pay on the athletic field.”
The “Equal Pay for Team USA Act” now heads to President Biden for his signature.