Senate Advances Ukraine Aid Package, Adds Controversial Tweak

The bill includes an IMF provision that House Republicans refused to include in their measure.

Berkut riot police hang a Ukrainian flag from a street light on Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
March 12, 2014, 2:22 p.m.

The count­down to a par­tis­an fight between the House and Sen­ate over a Ukraine aid bill has of­fi­cially star­ted.

The Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day voted 14-3 to ap­prove an aid pack­age that would give Ukraine $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees and ad­di­tion­al fund­ing for as­sist­ance and se­cur­ity co­oper­a­tion, as well as im­pose sanc­tions and visa bans against Rus­si­an and Ukrain­i­an in­di­vidu­als.

The meas­ure, however, would also al­low the United States to move bil­lions from an In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund crisis fund to the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s gen­er­al fund.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez said the pro­vi­sion en­sures that the le­gis­la­tion “has the ne­ces­sary re­sources to sup­port struc­tur­al re­forms in the Ukraine and the where­with­al to re­spond to and pre­vent a fin­an­cial crisis in the Ukraine that could spill over to glob­al mar­kets.”

Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an Ron John­son offered an amend­ment to re­move the pro­vi­sion — say­ing he doesn’t be­lieve it is “es­sen­tial for this bill, in any way, shape, or form” — but the com­mit­tee voted it down.

House Re­pub­lic­ans side with John­son, however. The lower cham­ber passed le­gis­la­tion back­ing $1 bil­lion in guar­an­teed loans earli­er this week, but re­fused the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s long-stand­ing re­quest to in­clude changes to the IMF.

Men­en­dez did get some sup­port from across the aisle, in­clud­ing from the pan­el’s top Re­pub­lic­an, Bob Cork­er. But the Ten­ness­ee sen­at­or did ac­know­ledge that the IMF faces an up­hill — if not im­possible — struggle for broad­er GOP sup­port.

“This is go­ing to be a little more dif­fi­cult on our side of the aisle, let’s put it that way,” Cork­er said.

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