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Schumer Visits Ukraine to Put Pressure on G.O.P. to Pass Aid Bill

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Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, is visiting Ukraine on Friday to express U.S. solidarity with Ukraine and put pressure on the Republican party to stop resisting additional U.S. aid. This visit comes at a crucial time as a foreign assistance package containing over $60 billion in military aid for Kyiv is stuck in Congress due to Republican opposition.

This trip signifies a victory for Mr. Schumer, the New York Democrat, who successfully navigated the aid bill through the Senate with bipartisan support. However, the legislation is now facing obstacles in the House, with Republican Speaker Mike Johnson rejecting appeals to bring it to the floor.

During the visit, Mr. Schumer plans to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine’s new military commander, Oleksandr Syrsky. His goal is to demonstrate how delays in providing aid have hindered Ukraine’s efforts on the battlefield. He aims to appeal to House Republicans to take action before it’s too late.

Mr. Schumer stressed the urgency of the situation, citing evidence that Ukraine, for the first time, is facing setbacks in the war. He pointed to ammunition shortages as a key reason for Ukraine’s challenges and expressed confidence that the country could win the war if provided with the necessary resources.

Nevertheless, there are doubts about whether his message will resonate in Washington, despite ongoing Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities. The Ukrainian Air Force reported shooting down 23 of 31 Russian drones, and civilians in Odesa were found dead under the rubble of a building damaged by the drones.

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Mr. Schumer emphasized that his primary audience for this trip is Republican lawmakers who have expressed support for Ukraine but voted against providing additional military assistance. Opposition to aiding Ukraine has grown within the Republican party in recent years, partially driven by former President Donald J. Trump’s “America First” stance. Some Republicans argue that the U.S. should not support Ukraine unless it secure its own border with Mexico.

Mr. Schumer acknowledged the challenge of convincing Republicans, especially in the House, to support the aid bill. Despite bipartisan support from Senator Mitch McConnell and other Republican lawmakers, the Speaker of the House is facing pressure from far-right Republicans to block the aid.

The visit to Ukraine is part of Senator Schumer’s efforts to build an international profile following his appointment as the majority leader. He stated that his discussions with foreign leaders in Munich regarding Ukraine’s situation were crucial for showing Europe that the U.S. continues to stand in solidarity with them.

Despite current barriers, Mr. Schumer indicated that he and the White House are exploring alternative means to bypass House Republican resistance if their efforts to persuade Mr. Johnson and others fail to allow a vote on the aid bill.

In conclusion, Senator Chuck Schumer’s visit to Ukraine is a testament to the ongoing diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine and underscores the challenges in garnering bipartisan support for foreign aid, underscoring the importance of global events beyond immediate political considerations.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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