New House Ukraine Package Unveiled

The bill could cause a clash with the Senate over IMF provision.

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
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Billy House
March 21, 2014, 11:13 a.m.

Key House law­makers on Fri­day un­veiled le­gis­la­tion to aid Ukraine and pun­ish Rus­sia, but the bill did not in­clude In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund re­forms con­tained in a Sen­ate pro­pos­al that were op­posed by House lead­ers and many con­ser­vat­ives.

The ex­clu­sion of IMF re­forms, con­tained in a bill ap­proved last week by the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, sets up a clash. The Sen­ate bill backs the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s call to shift $63 bil­lion from an IMF crisis ac­count to its gen­er­al fund.

Re­pub­lic­ans who op­pose that shift, in­clud­ing House Speak­er John Boehner, say such a move really has noth­ing to do with the Ukraine crisis. They note that Pres­id­ent Obama and Demo­crats have been push­ing the move for some time, and that the pres­id­ent in­cluded it in his budget pro­pos­al for fisc­al 2015.

There was no men­tion of the IMF flap Fri­day by House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce when he an­nounced the new bill, which his com­mit­tee will con­sider Tues­day.

“The U.S. and our European friends should be bol­ster­ing the sov­er­eignty and in­de­pend­ence of Ukraine. That means aid­ing Ukraine’s fledgling demo­cracy, with its May elec­tions loom­ing, and bol­ster­ing its eco­nomy, in­clud­ing by help­ing break Putin’s en­ergy grip over East­ern Europe,” Royce said in a state­ment.

Royce said the U.S. should act im­me­di­ately to in­crease nat­ur­al-gas ex­ports to Europe, un­der­min­ing Rus­sia’s mono­poly, and also that “strong sanc­tions against those Rus­si­ans re­spons­ible for this ag­gres­sion against Ukraine are crit­ic­al.”

Rank­ing mem­ber Eli­ot En­gel, a New York Demo­crat, de­scribed the bill as one that “sup­ple­ments the Pres­id­ent’s ef­forts to im­pose sanc­tions on those re­spons­ible for vi­ol­at­ing Ukraine’s sov­er­eignty and ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity, loot­ing Ukraine’s eco­nomy, and vi­ol­at­ing hu­man rights in Ukraine. It sends a clear mes­sage to Pres­id­ent Putin and his cor­rupt cronies that we will not tol­er­ate Rus­si­an ag­gres­sion.”

The bill, dubbed the Ukraine Sup­port Act, would co­di­fy ex­ist­ing ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders that sanc­tion in­di­vidu­als in­volved in the vi­ol­ence in Ukraine or who un­der­mine the in­de­pend­ence, sov­er­eignty, or ter­rit­ori­al or eco­nom­ic in­teg­rity of Ukraine.

It also au­thor­izes the pres­id­ent to im­pose tar­geted sanc­tions, in­clud­ing as­set freezes and visa bans, on any­one in­volved in Novem­ber 2013 in un­der­min­ing the demo­crat­ic pro­cesses or ser­i­ous hu­man-rights ab­uses in Ukraine — vi­ol­at­ing Ukraine’s ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity — or in sig­ni­fic­ant acts of cor­rup­tion, in­clud­ing mis­ap­pro­pri­ation of Ukrain­i­an as­sets. In ad­di­tion, the bill would al­low the ad­min­is­tra­tion to care­fully scru­tin­ize banks, es­pe­cially Rus­si­an banks, to de­term­ine if they are in­volved in the plun­der­ing of Ukraine’s as­sets; money laun­der­ing; ter­ror­ist fin­an­cing; act­ively help­ing to skirt sanc­tions; or help­ing to an­nex Crimea.

In terms of sup­port for Ukraine, the bill would provide for a surge in tar­geted broad­cast­ing by re­quir­ing Ra­dio Free Europe/Ra­dio Liberty and Voice of Amer­ica to in­crease broad­casts in­to east­ern Ukraine (in­clud­ing Crimea) and tar­get eth­nic Rus­si­an com­munit­ies.

It also would en­cour­age the Over­seas Private In­vest­ment Cor­por­a­tion to pri­or­it­ize in­vest­ments in Ukraine; en­hance se­cur­ity co­oper­a­tion among NATO states in Cent­ral and East­ern Europe through mil­it­ary train­ing and ex­er­cises; and as­sist Ukrain­i­an law en­force­ment to im­prove pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights.