Zelensky addressed Congress on Wednesday night after meeting with President Joe Biden during his first trip abroad since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24. The speech was made as Congress considers a $1.7 trillion spending bill that would include $45 billion in additional funds for Ukraine, which some Republicans oppose.
During the speech, the Ukrainian president told lawmakers that sending his country aid during the war was “not charity,” arguing that it was instead “an investment in the global security of democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.” It was one of many moments in which Zelensky received a standing ovation from nearly all of those in attendance.
Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who have both demanded an end to aid for Ukraine and audits of previous funding, were among the small number of attendees who refused to applaud or stand for Zelensky during the speech.
Others, including a number of outspoken supporters of former President Donald Trump and his MAGA movement, later expressed their dissatisfaction with Zelensky’s speech on social media.
“The reception of Zelensky’s speech tonight — mass adulation by our ‘leaders’ — seals the deal,” tweeted Scott Stephenson, a self-described “proud Trump Republican” who previously ran for Congress. “Our republic is dead. We The People must work together to start again. Our founding fathers had the right model. Time for a reboot.”
“It was very democratic Zelenskyy to wear military fatigues for his speech,” actor and former GOP congressional candidate Nicholas Tutora tweeted. “So many corrupt politicians are getting rich on this money laundering scam. Zelenskyy said it was like the battle of the bulge, where’s the news footage of that?”
“I don’t give a damn about Volodymyr Zelensky or which particular international criminal cartel rules in Ukraine, especially not when my own country is being purposely collapsed by the very same people funneling billions to this clown and his cronies,” tweeted Scott Morefield, writer for the conservative website Townhall. “They can all go to hell.”
“We do NOT support you,” far-right activist and former congressional candidate Laura Loomer tweeted to Zelensky. “Now please leave our country and give us back the $100 BILLION you stole from us.”
“If Ukraine is such a ‘war zone’, maybe you & your wife should stop buying your family multi million $ mansions in Israel w/ OUR TAX PAYER MONEY, & doing Vogue photo shoots,” the tweet continued.
Some GOP lawmakers dismissed Zelensky’s speech while denouncing Democrats and comparing Ukraine’s war with Russia to the “invasion” of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Democrats are willing to spend billions of dollars on Ukraine’s security while totally failing to spend a dime to protect our own citizens against an invasion at our southern border,” Representative Joey Arrington of Texas said in a statement.
“I can’t celebrate using billions of taxpayer dollars to help another country while politicians allow our own nation to burn to the ground,” he continued.
After attending, Boebert tweeted a video of herself reacting to Zelensky’s speech.
“Sadly, what I didn’t hear tonight was a clear explanation of where the first $50 billion we sent to support their efforts went,” Boebert said in the video. “Until Congress receives a full audit on where our money has already gone, I will not support sending additional money to this war.”
“President Zelensky is working to protect his country, his border and his people, I get it,” she added. “I really just wish our commander-in-chief would do the same here right here at home, and secure our southern border and protect our people.”
Gaetz expressed similar sentiments in a statement shared to Twitter following the speech, explaining that he would not support the “America Last” policy of aiding Ukraine’s war effort “while our country is in crisis.”
“He did not change my stance on suspending aid for Ukraine and investigating fraud in transfers already made,” Gaetz said.
A significant portion of the Republican caucus did not attend Wednesday’s speech. Only 86 out of 213 House Republicans were present, according to The Hill. Notable GOP senators to skip the event included Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
Donald Trump Jr., who lashed out by calling Zelensky a “welfare queen” earlier in the day, shared to Twitter an altered photo taken during the speech after it concluded.
The picture features Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holding a Ukrainian flag, while Zelensky stands at the lectern. An image of a nude Hunter Biden is spliced in next to the Ukrainian president.
A number of Republicans also criticized Zelensky over his choice of wardrobe on Wednesday. Some insisted that he had not shown proper “respect” by wearing his now-customary military fatigues instead of a suit while visiting Biden at the White House.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson panned the Ukrainian president’s speech to Congress during his Wednesday night broadcast, saying that Zelensky had spoken while dressed like a “Ukrainian strip club manager.” He also bizarrely accused Zelensky of fighting a “war against Christianity.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Republican National Committee for comment.