Senate Advances Ukraine Aid Package, Adds Controversial Tweak

The bill includes an IMF provision that House Republicans refused to include in their measure.

Berkut riot police hang a Ukrainian flag from a street light on Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 12, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

The count­down to a par­tis­an fight between the House and Sen­ate over a Ukraine aid bill has of­fi­cially star­ted.

The Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day voted 14-3 to ap­prove an aid pack­age that would give Ukraine $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees and ad­di­tion­al fund­ing for as­sist­ance and se­cur­ity co­oper­a­tion, as well as im­pose sanc­tions and visa bans against Rus­si­an and Ukrain­i­an in­di­vidu­als.

The meas­ure, however, would also al­low the United States to move bil­lions from an In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund crisis fund to the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s gen­er­al fund.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez said the pro­vi­sion en­sures that the le­gis­la­tion “has the ne­ces­sary re­sources to sup­port struc­tur­al re­forms in the Ukraine and the where­with­al to re­spond to and pre­vent a fin­an­cial crisis in the Ukraine that could spill over to glob­al mar­kets.”

Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an Ron John­son offered an amend­ment to re­move the pro­vi­sion — say­ing he doesn’t be­lieve it is “es­sen­tial for this bill, in any way, shape, or form” — but the com­mit­tee voted it down.

House Re­pub­lic­ans side with John­son, however. The lower cham­ber passed le­gis­la­tion back­ing $1 bil­lion in guar­an­teed loans earli­er this week, but re­fused the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s long-stand­ing re­quest to in­clude changes to the IMF.

Men­en­dez did get some sup­port from across the aisle, in­clud­ing from the pan­el’s top Re­pub­lic­an, Bob Cork­er. But the Ten­ness­ee sen­at­or did ac­know­ledge that the IMF faces an up­hill — if not im­possible — struggle for broad­er GOP sup­port.

“This is go­ing to be a little more dif­fi­cult on our side of the aisle, let’s put it that way,” Cork­er said.

What We're Following See More »
Warren Goes After Trump Yet Again
1 hours ago

When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage. 

Congress Passes Chemical Regulations Overhaul
4 hours ago

The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."

GOP Could Double Number of Early Primaries
4 hours ago

"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."

Kasich Tells His Delegates to Remain Pledged to Him
6 hours ago

Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."

House GOP Changes Rules for Spending Measures
6 hours ago

"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.