The Senate could take up the Ukraine aid bill this week that the House already passed, allowing lawmakers to avoid controversy and ensure action before they leave for a weeklong recess.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to approve a comprehensive Ukraine aid package Wednesday. The package, led by committee Chairman Robert Menendez and ranking member Bob Corker would include $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, sanctions against Russia that condemn it for corruption, and reforms to the International Monetary Fund sought by the Obama administration.
The IMF reforms would boost the organization's capacity to assist countries in crises like what is unfolding in Ukraine. But the reforms are expected to remain a source of controversy with some Republicans, who are wary of the IMF, have concerns about the potential costs, or who want to use the reforms for leverage with the administration on unrelated priorities.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to file cloture immediately following the committee's passage of the bill Wednesday, in order to bring the bill to the floor. But the consternation over the IMF provision is expected to bog things down and could prevent the chamber from bringing up the bill this week.
With the Senate expected to adjourn Thursday and several members scheduled to visit Ukraine over the recess, many lawmakers feel an increased sense of urgency to act, so the chamber might take up the House-passed bill, which provides $1 billion in loan guarantees before it adjourns, according to a senator involved in the negotiations.
This article appears in the March 13, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.