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.
What We're Following See More »
A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."
"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.