House Paves the Way for $1 Billion in Aid to Ukraine

But the legislation doesn’t include changes to the International Monetary Fund that President Obama and some Democrats pushed for.

Anti-government stand behind a 'wall of smoke' during clashes with police in the center of Kiev on February 20, 2014.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 6, 2014, 11:11 a.m.

In a Con­gress not known for fast ac­tion, House mem­bers quickly passed le­gis­la­tion Thursday to give Ukraine $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees.

The bill, which passed 385-23 with wide bi­par­tis­an sup­port, was in­tro­duced Wed­nes­day by House Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers, R-Ky., and the com­mit­tee’s rank­ing mem­ber Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

The le­gis­la­tion would give Ukraine ac­cess to loan guar­an­tees from the State De­part­ment. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pledged to give the coun­try $1 bil­lion to help off­set the scale-back of Rus­si­an en­ergy sub­sidies as part of a lar­ger in­ter­na­tion­al ef­fort to provide fin­an­cial sup­port.

Ro­gers called the bill “an im­port­ant first step that will al­low the coun­try to shore up its fin­ances and be­gin to make its eco­nomy more ef­fi­cient.”

And al­though mem­bers stressed the need to help the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment and its fledgling eco­nomy dur­ing floor speeches, they also said the bill would send a mes­sage to Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin.

Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md., said Putin is try­ing to “rel­it­ig­ate the Cold War” with the oc­cu­pa­tion in Crimea.

But the le­gis­la­tion didn’t tie the loan guar­an­tees to changes to the In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund, as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and some Demo­crats wanted.

The pres­id­ent made a White House brief­ing-room ap­pear­ance Thursday af­ter­noon to press mem­bers of Con­gress to pass le­gis­la­tion, and “spe­cific­ally to sup­port the IMF’s ca­pa­city to lend re­sources to Ukraine and to provide Amer­ic­an as­sist­ance for the Ukrain­i­an gov­ern­ment so that they can weath­er this storm and sta­bil­ize their eco­nomy, [and] make needed re­forms.”

But House Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er sug­ges­ted that the IMF pro­vi­sion could make a re­appear­ance in the Sen­ate, with the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee po­ten­tially tak­ing up aid le­gis­la­tion next week.

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