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.
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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.
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."
"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."
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."
"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.