Blame the Doc Fix! Congress Fails to Send Obama Ukraine Bill This Week

Heartburn over a quick, sneaky vote Thursday on the Medicare payments has made members wary of voice votes, aides say.

A pro-Russian protester takes down a Ukrainian flag as activists storm a Ukrainian air base in western Crimea on Saturday. The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved a Ukraine sanctions bill with language that may lead to tightened penalties against Iran's supporters.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
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Stacy Kaper
March 28, 2014, 9:03 a.m.

After much back and forth this week about how the House and Sen­ate would fi­nally send sub­stan­tially sim­il­ar le­gis­la­tion to aid Ukraine to the White House, the le­gis­la­tion is rolling over to next week, con­gres­sion­al aides said Fri­day.

The House and Sen­ate have each passed es­sen­tially the same set of meas­ures de­signed to provide loan guar­an­tees to Ukraine while im­pos­ing sanc­tions against Rus­sia meant to pun­ish Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin. But they are not in the same pack­age, which is ne­ces­sary to send a bill to the pres­id­ent’s desk.

Late Thursday the Sen­ate ap­proved by un­an­im­ous con­sent fund­ing for Voice of Amer­ica and sim­il­ar European broad­casts in­to east­ern Ukraine and Crimea geared to­ward eth­nic Rus­si­an com­munit­ies, which was in­cluded in the House le­gis­la­tion.

House law­makers had been ex­pec­ted to ap­prove the Sen­ate Ukraine pack­age Fri­day on voice vote, while the cham­ber is ad­journed in a pro forma ses­sion. But after heart­burn over a quick voice vote on the so-called doc-fix le­gis­la­tion Thursday, the cham­ber de­cided to in­stead put the re­main­ing Ukraine le­gis­la­tion on its sus­pen­sion cal­en­dar, for quick de­bate and ap­prov­al on Tues­day.

The latest delay is only for a few days, but comes at the end of a long month of un­cer­tainty as law­makers’ over­whelm­ing dis­ap­prov­al of Rus­sia’s in­va­sion and an­nex­a­tion of Crimea struggled to trans­late in­to a straight­for­ward le­gis­lat­ive path — des­pite wide­spread bi­par­tis­an agree­ment on the fun­da­ment­al ne­ces­sity of a U.S. re­sponse.

A House aide said the ur­gency lessened after Ukraine re­ceived aid from the In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund this week, al­low­ing Con­gress more breath­ing room to come up with a le­gis­lat­ive deal.

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