Biden, Congress get a Zelenskyy test: The Note

He will ask for things that Biden and most in Congress aren’t ready to deliver.

March 16, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

He may be the most popular and media-savvy politician in the United States -- and he's about to get as big a domestic stage and he's likely to get.

On Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gets a rare honor of delivering a virtual address to Congress. President Joe Biden is also scheduled to talk about the situation in Ukraine later in the day, though to much less anticipation and fanfare.

For American politicians in both parties, the Zelenskyy speech highlights a strong partnership on one of the most visible platforms available. But his keen understanding of the multitude of other platforms out there makes this something of a test for members of Congress and the White House.

Without knowing what exactly Zelenskyy will say, it's already well-established that he will ask for things Biden and most in Congress aren't prepared to deliver.

PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is applauded by Canadian members of Parliament while delivering a virtual address in Ottawa, March 15, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is applauded by Canadian members of Parliament while delivering a virtual address in Ottawa, March 15, 2022.
Adrian Wyld/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Zelenskyy's private audience with members of Congress last week drew requests in that vein. His speech to the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday included a fresh plea for a no-fly zone: "Please close the sky, close the airspace," he said.

That notion was rejected again by the White House, with a new warning that such a move would "essentially" lead to a shooting war between the United States and Russia. White House press secretary Jen Psaki added that the administration is familiar with Zelenskyy's asks but that "we have provided our own assessment of what does and doesn't make sense."

Zelenskyy's play, in part, is a play to the American people in the hopes of rallying support for moves American elected leaders have so far resisted. It makes for a moment with more on the line than the latest political talking point.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting that killed eight people including six women of Asian descent.

The solemn anniversary comes amid ongoing violence against members of the Asian American community.

A report published by Stop AAPI Hate earlier this month tallied 11,000 hate incidents against Asian Americans -- including both verbal harassment and physical assault -- between March 2020 and the end of December 2021.

PHOTO:  Mourners visit and leave flowers at the site of two shootings at spas across the street from one another in Atlanta, March 17, 2021.
Mourners visit and leave flowers at the site of two shootings at spas across the street from one another in Atlanta, March 17, 2021.
Megan Varner/Getty Images, FILE

Lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, signed a resolution mourning the loss of the shooting victims and reaffirming their commitment to combatting hate incidents.

"The spa shootings in Atlanta were shocking, but they were also the tragic and expected result of over a year of anti-Asian xenophobia and slurs, including from the then-President," said the chair, Rep. Judy Chu. "It is only by speaking out against this rhetoric that we can hope to end this plague of anti-Asian hate."

Just last week, the Caucus celebrated passage of the omnibus spending bill that includes $5 million in funding to help law enforcement agencies improve their response to hate crimes and better track these incidents.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Senate lawmakers enjoyed a moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday as they unanimously voted to pass legislation that allows states to make daylight savings time permanent. The bill still needs to pass in the House and be signed by President Biden before becoming law.

"We can't always get bipartisan agreement in Congress these days, but here's one thing we can agree on: we could all use a bit more sunshine. That's why we're working together in the US Senate to make sure we end the practice of 'spring forward' and 'fall back' by making daylight saving time permanent," wrote sponsor Sens. Ed Markey and Marco Rubio in a recent op-ed.

PHOTO: Senator Marco Rubio speaks in support of the "Sunshine bill" which makes Daylight Savings time permanent on the floor of the Senate in Washington, March 15, 2022.
Senator Marco Rubio speaks in support of the "Sunshine bill" which makes Daylight Savings time permanent on the floor of the Senate in Washington, March 15, 2022.
Senate.gov

Since the bill's introduction in March 2021 by Rubio, its co-sponsors have argued the biannual time switch negatively impacts Americans' lives. Lawmakers have cited studies that say ending the practice would result in fewer car accidents involving pedestrians, reduce seasonal depression and help expand economic activity by allowing retailers to utilize more operating hours.

While it remains unclear whether the bill will pass in the House, the debate isn't new. In 1973, Congress voted to make daylight savings time permanent, but the legislation was soon reversed after being in practice for about a year due to public outcry over dangers involved with early morning darkness.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

2. That's the number of percentage points President Biden's approval rating has ticked up since his March 1 State of the Union address. According to FiveThirtyEight's presidential approval tracker, 42.9% of Americans approve of Biden's job performance and 52.3% disapprove. As the FiveThirtyEight crew discusses in a Slack chat, this is a positive development for Biden given his approval rating has lagged for months, but we wouldn't call it a rebound -- yet.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. In a special edition of "Start Here" on Wednesday, a Ukrainian woman who fled Kyiv with her two sons tells the devastating story of her escape and the family she left behind. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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