Senate Poised to Act on Ukraine Aid Before Looming Recess

Senate could take up House-passed aid measure this week to speed up the process and dodge IMF controversy.

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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March 12, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

The Sen­ate could take up the Ukraine aid bill this week that the House already passed, al­low­ing law­makers to avoid con­tro­versy and en­sure ac­tion be­fore they leave for a weeklong re­cess.

The Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee is ex­pec­ted to ap­prove a com­pre­hens­ive Ukraine aid pack­age Wed­nes­day. The pack­age, led by com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez and rank­ing mem­ber Bob Cork­er would in­clude $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees to Ukraine, sanc­tions against Rus­sia that con­demn it for cor­rup­tion, and re­forms to the In­ter­na­tion­al Mon­et­ary Fund sought by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The IMF re­forms would boost the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s ca­pa­city to as­sist coun­tries in crises like what is un­fold­ing in Ukraine. But the re­forms are ex­pec­ted to re­main a source of con­tro­versy with some Re­pub­lic­ans, who are wary of the IMF, have con­cerns about the po­ten­tial costs, or who want to use the re­forms for lever­age with the ad­min­is­tra­tion on un­re­lated pri­or­it­ies.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id is ex­pec­ted to file clo­ture im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the com­mit­tee’s pas­sage of the bill Wed­nes­day, in or­der to bring the bill to the floor. But the con­sterna­tion over the IMF pro­vi­sion is ex­pec­ted to bog things down and could pre­vent the cham­ber from bring­ing up the bill this week.

With the Sen­ate ex­pec­ted to ad­journ Thursday and sev­er­al mem­bers sched­uled to vis­it Ukraine over the re­cess, many law­makers feel an in­creased sense of ur­gency to act, so the cham­ber might take up the House-passed bill, which provides $1 bil­lion in loan guar­an­tees be­fore it ad­journs, ac­cord­ing to a sen­at­or in­volved in the ne­go­ti­ations.

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