Congress Approves Ukraine Aid, Expects Obama Signature This Week

Both chambers passed legislation Thursday but still have work to do before anything lands on the president’s desk.

People hold a huge flag, a combination of a Ukrainian, Crimean and Tatar flags, on Independence Square in Kiev on March 23, 2014.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
March 27, 2014, 8:44 a.m.

The House and Sen­ate al­most sim­ul­tan­eously passed dif­fer­ent but spir­itu­ally sim­il­ar Ukraine bills Thursday that would co­di­fy sanc­tions pun­ish­ing Rus­sia for its re­cent an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and pro­mote demo­cracy in Ukraine.

Both cham­bers ap­proved their bills by over­whelm­ing mar­gins, and a path for­ward on how to send le­gis­la­tion to the White House this week began to slowly emerge. Law­makers were ini­tially un­sure if they could re­con­cile the dif­fer­ent bills and send one to Pres­id­ent Obama to sign by the end of the week.

The House meas­ure passed 399-19 and sup­ple­ments an­oth­er bill the House passed earli­er this month that would provide $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees to Ukraine.

The Sen­ate, mean­while, agreed on a 98-2 vote to strip its bill of con­tro­ver­sial re­forms to the In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund that House Re­pub­lic­ans were ex­pec­ted to op­pose. Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Dean Heller and Rand Paul voted against ad­opt­ing the re­vised meas­ure. The Sen­ate bill passed by voice vote and com­bines $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees to Ukraine with sanc­tions meant to pun­ish Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin.

The White House has lob­bied for the IMF re­forms, which it says could help the IMF boost its as­sist­ance to Ukraine. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion has also ar­gued that send­ing as­sist­ance to Ukraine is es­sen­tial and must hap­pen as soon as pos­sible — ideally be­fore the end of the month — with or without the IMF piece.

The House and Sen­ate agree on the policy points, but they still need to pass the same bill in or­der to get one to Pres­id­ent’s Obama desk and signed in­to law.

The House ad­journed Thursday without com­plet­ing the Ukraine le­gis­la­tion. But a House GOP aide said the cham­ber was still plan­ning to send a bill to the White House this week. It is ex­pec­ted to ap­prove the Sen­ate meas­ure on a voice vote, which could oc­cur even while the House is ad­journed, in a pro forma ses­sion, be­fore the week­end.

A Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide also said both cham­bers plan to still get le­gis­la­tion to Obama this week. But noth­ing is cer­tain, and the pos­sib­il­ity of ac­tion slip­ping un­til next week re­mains a dis­tinct pos­sib­il­ity. 

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.

Source:
×