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 »
Donald Trump is set to issue a new and more focused executive order clarifying the scope of his travel ban, hoping that the order will survive legal challenges. The new order would focus on the same seven countries, "but would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before. Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions." Some lawyers believe the government will now have much stronger standing, though lawyers who challenged the initial order see the same core problems with the forthcoming ban.
"President Donald Trump announced Monday that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster will serve as his next national security adviser, filling the void left last week by the sudden dismissal of Michael Flynn. ... Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been serving as the acting national security adviser since Flynn's exit, will return to his role as chief of staff of the National Security Council." The pick was widely praised on both sides of the aisle.
"Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned down President Donald Trump's offer to be national security adviser Thursday, depriving the administration of a top candidate for a critical foreign policy post days after Trump fired Michael Flynn." Among the potential reasons: his family, his lack of assurances that he could build his own team, and that "the White House seems so chaotic."