Congress Heading for Fight Over Aid to Ukraine

Senators are expected to overcome a procedural hurdle, but disagreement over an IMF provision remains.

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 25: People walk through in Independence Square, where dozens of protestors were killed in clashes with riot police last week on February 25, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine's interim President Olexander Turchynov is due to form a unity government, as UK and US foreign ministers meet to discuss emergency financial assistance for the country. 
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Jordain Carney
March 24, 2014, 8:30 a.m.

Sen­at­ors are tak­ing a step closer to a show­down with the House over an aid pack­age for Ukraine.

The Sen­ate is ex­pec­ted to take a pro­ced­ur­al vote late Monday af­ter­noon on a bill that in­cludes con­tro­ver­sial changes to the In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund. The pro­vi­sion — long pressed for by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion — would al­low the United States to move bil­lions from the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s crisis fund to a gen­er­al fund.

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez said in Brus­sels over the week­end that the IMF changes are part of a bill that as­sists “Ukraine dur­ing this crit­ic­al time” and “holds Mo­scow ac­count­able for its ag­gress­ive stance.”

Aid to Ukraine has broad bi­par­tis­an sup­port, and the bill is ex­pec­ted to pass its pro­ced­ur­al vote. But the like­li­hood of a bill reach­ing the pres­id­ent’s desk with the IMF re­forms in­tact re­mains un­clear.

Top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials — in­clud­ing Pres­id­ent Obama, Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew, and Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry — have stressed that the changes to the in­ter­na­tion­al group are needed to help Ukraine get more aid money. But con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans have balked — and in the House, out­right re­jec­ted — in­clud­ing the changes.

House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion last week that largely mirrored the Sen­ate bill, ex­cept for the IMF pro­vi­sion. The com­mit­tee will mark up the pro­pos­al Tues­day.

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