By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted 78-17 to advance a Ukraine aid package Monday asked for by the Obama administration, setting up a final vote for later this week. Both parties support the aid package for the Ukraine but the bill is controversial because Senate Democrats included a provision that “reforms” the troubled International Monetary Fund (IMF).
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery said in a written statement, “House lawmakers on Friday introduced a new Ukraine aid and Russia sanctions bill that does not contain controversial International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms opposed by GOP leaders. The bill will receive a committee vote on Tuesday, setting up likely floor action later in the week. The new legislation sets up a confrontation with Senate Democrats, who included IMF reforms backed by the White House in their legislation.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) from Nevada attacked Republicans suggesting that their inaction helped Russia annex Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Reid said the GOP should consider “how their obstruction affects United States’ national security as well as the people of Ukraine.” “It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice,” Reid said.
Republicans object to including the controversial IMF changes (which Republicans have opposed for years) in the Ukraine assistance package. U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Texas backed efforts by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to strip the IMF reform measures from the Ukraine aid package.
Sen. Cruz said, “We are deeply concerned that the Ukraine aid legislation reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee contains ‘reform’ provisions that would unnecessarily double the United States contribution to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), part of the largest proportional increase ever, yet ultimately undermine our influence in that body in a manner that provides no actual relief to Ukraine.”
The Senate bill would provide for $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine’s new government and allow the Obama administration to impose economic penalties on Russian officials responsible for the military intervention or culpable of gross corruption.
Rep. Roby said, “The fight over the IMF provisions prevented additional progress last week. The White House argues the reforms would help free up money for Ukraine, but congressional Republicans have opposed the language and argued it would lessen U.S. influence in the institution.”
The conservative Alabama Congresswoman said, “House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) praised the bill introduced by Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) in a statement that did not mention the IMF issue.
“This important legislation 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,” he said. “It sends a clear message to President Putin and his corrupt cronies that we will not tolerate Russian aggression. “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and intimidation of Ukraine should be a wakeup call,” said Royce. “The U.S. and our European friends should be bolstering the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
Rep. Roby said, “The House earlier this month passed a bill giving Ukraine $1 billion in loan guarantees. The new House bill adds sanctions on Russian officials and businessmen as well as some direct military and non-military help. President Obama has already claimed broad sanctions power but the bill would require the administration to broaden the criteria for those individuals targeted. The House bill differs from the Senate version in that it does not provide $100 million in security assistance and instead has $8 million for law enforcement efforts. The House bill also authorizes a $10 million surge in international broadcasts from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to Ukraine and Crimea.”
Representative Roby said that, “In addition to possible consideration of a Ukraine aid bill, the House is expected to consider:
- H.R. 4275, the Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act;
- H.R. 2823, Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America; and
- H.R. 1459, Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act.”
Rep. Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.