Ukraine aid bill advances in Senate
Russian military personnel surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe, Crimea, on March 19. Ukrainian troops have been encircled by pro-Russian forces in their bases for days.
March 24th, 2014
06:47 PM ET
5 months ago

Ukraine aid bill advances in Senate

(CNN) - A Ukrainian aid package that previously stalled on Capitol Hill cleared a procedural hurdle on Monday as senators agreed to begin debating the bill this week.

The vote was 78 to 17 and came on the same day that the United States and other industrialized powers stepped up their pressure on Russia over the annexation of Crimea.

But final congressional approval of any aid plan and potential sanctions could take much longer as House and Senate lawmakers wrestle over unrelated matters in the legislation.

One provision includes whether to approve long-delayed reforms to the International Monetary Fund. Most Senate Democrats, joined by the White House and a handful of Republicans, want to include the IMF reforms while most Republicans in the House and Senate oppose doing so.

With Russian forces positioned threateningly on the Ukrainian border, lawmakers are blaming one another for slowing Washington’s response to the crisis.

“It’s impossible to know if events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to this Russian aggression with a strong and unified voice, which we did not do,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Certainly, we don’t want to be bogged down in internal delay over other non-related or only slightly related issues,” warned Sen. Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican and a member of the Intelligence Committee .

Coats was one of a handful of U.S. officials placed on a Russia sanctions list last week.

Reid accused Republicans of blocking the Senate Ukraine bill, including the IMF reforms, in order to get Democrats and the White House to agree to delay newly drafted regulations for how some non-profit organizations, designated by the IRS tax code as 501 (c) (4)s, can spend their money on political advocacy.

“Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package in order to protect the ability of the Koch brothers and other GOP donors to hide behind shadowy front groups – groups that spend millions on misleading, political attack ads,” Reid said.

Reid is leading a campaign against one of these groups, Americans for Prosperity, which is run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch who have targeted vulnerable Senate Democrats this election year.

Republicans acknowledge they are looking for a way to delay the IRS regulations, which they say will stifle free speech. But they blamed Reid and the White House for insisting the controversial IMF reforms are included in this bill as the real reason the bill is hung up.

Democrats argue the IMF reforms belong in the bill because they would allow the international bank to lend more money to the cash-strapped new Ukrainian government. Republicans say they want to handle the IMF matter in a separate bill they can fully debate and amend.

Significantly, the IMF reforms are not included in a new bill that the Republican-controlled House could vote on this week.

The House bill is otherwise expected to mirror the Senate measure, which includes $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, $150 million in direct aid, as well as sanctions against Russian officials and former Ukrainian officials responsible for violence against protesters there.

The push to drop the IMF language won support from a top House Democrat on Monday. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters that while he supports the IMF reforms, they are not as important as quickly passing a bill.

“The IMF ought to be included in this,” Hoyer said. “But if we can't get that passed we ought to pass the $1 billion without the IMF, because we need to move as quickly as we can to give confidence to the Ukrainian people, and evidence to the Russians that we fully intend to make sure the Ukraine is a viable economic unit."

– Paul Courson contributed to this report.


Filed under: Harry Reid • Russia • Senate • Ukraine
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    Save the money and send gur and i some bread ?

    March 24, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. bill

    have reid call his associates that were paid out of contributions to get online gambling--they have enought to pay this themselves. Still do not understand the AG not going after reid-a bridge was shut down and all hell broke loosel. Do what–oh, he wasn't an obamaites and above the law. ok

    March 24, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Where's all this money coming from? According to every politician, able to spew a lie or two, we're broke, never to be whole again. Something smells.

    March 24, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. crazyheeb

    Funny, the Gubmint can find all kinds of money to aid Ukraine and other parts unknown, but god forbid they live up to their obligations to take care of US Soldiers.... Can we please elect people that actually care about the men and women they have sent into harm's way?

    March 24, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  5. sammy750

    Don't be so sure of it passage, the Republicans want an amendment indicating the IRS will NOT enforce 501C4, it will ignore the Conservatives cheating on campaign monies. So the HOUSE and speaker Boehner will defeat this bill. The republicans want to throw in Republican politics into a foreign aid bill. This is the nonsense of the Tea Party. They don't want any monies going to foreign aid, even though it has already been approved 4 years ago. The crazies, when will they get defeated? Wake up voters, the Tea Party and Republicans will be your death sentence.

    March 24, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  6. martin

    How wonderful, let's advance this new legislation for foreign aid and continue to stall and waste time considering helping he millions of unemployed AMERICAN's who have been without benefits since last December. This indicates your true colors. I have many more words of wisdom to share with you but they would not get past the moderators. Where does your Patriotism lie? Why do you not serve those who put you in office first, then consider foreign aid? You do not even acknowledge that we exist. You will hear more soon.

    March 24, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. Ken

    Why are we giving money to Ukraine? Maybe we should give money to every country in the world and maybe someday they will cover our debt!

    March 24, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  8. Bobbie

    Aid Bill? we were just cutting the Military Benefits with out end and now we are thinking about an Aid Bill why don't you ask the American People about giving Aid to anybody except to the people that earned them, not happy at all...

    March 24, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  9. ED1

    Just remember Putin Obama has a phone and a pen and knows how to use both only one at a time.

    Our fearless leader, wounder if he is trying to find Barney so he can borrow his bullet.

    We are the laughing stock of the world.

    March 24, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. Bobbie

    I had to go back and find out what type of aid "The House bill is otherwise expected to mirror the Senate measure, which includes $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, $150 million in direct aid" Are you kidding me $1 billion in loan guarantees, why don't you the government use that to help the homeless I America? and $150 million in direct aid to help the Vets? Again Ask The American People I wish some one in DC would have the you know what Balls! to just ask the People what they want to do with there money..

    March 24, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  11. Al

    Anyone want to take a guess at who is really going to get that aid money. I don't think that Ukraine will see $1000.00 of the BILLIONS that the White House said they want to give away. Putin will be more than happy to take it and put it to good use for his next project.

    March 24, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  12. Kevin Borchers

    Send no money overseas until our own debt is at least half of what it is now.

    March 24, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. Nodack

    The more I read about this the more it stinks. Both the West and Russia are fightng for control over the Ukraine. Both have been meddling where the shouldn't. Russia hacked US and EU phone calls and then posted them on You Tube showing the level of meddling.

    Somebody during the protests were killing people protesting and police and now it is found out that the snipers were from the opposition party sniping their own protesters.

    A side note, Snowden was protesting the NSA spying on people and other countries and escaped to Russia where they apparently don't spy on people except that the have hacked pretty much everybody's phones in the US State Department and the EU and posted them on You Tube recently.

    March 25, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  14. Ron

    This is so ridiculous so "No Response".

    March 25, 2014 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  15. Jerry

    Crimea voted DEMOCRATICLY to pull away from Ukraine with about 93% in favor of breaking away! The US spent 5 BILLION of my and your tax dollars to stir up trouble there so a puppet government could take over.
    I am assuming that Putin does NOT want MORE nuclear weapons at their border so he did what he had to do to try to stop it. Remember when the Soviet Union moved nuclear warheads into Cuba?....well, this is the same thing BUT it is the US and EU doing it to Russia. We did not like it back then and Russia don't like it now. Best to keep our noses out of everyone else's business. We have enough problems of our own here in the US!....think so?!

    March 25, 2014 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. guest007

    $1 Billion to ukraine??? now we know why military pay and benefits are CUT......i guess other countries like iran, syria niw ukraine are more important than those who sacrifice their lives for our freedom

    March 25, 2014 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  17. NameB Lindon

    LEAVE it alone.

    March 25, 2014 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  18. Sunny

    Russia annexes Cremia....US taxpayers are punished with billions going to Ukraine.

    March 25, 2014 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  19. Adam Smith

    It's a shame the clowns in Congress would rather give one billion dollars to Ukraine in loan guaratees just to spite Russia than spend money at home – on improving infrastructure for example. Talk about priorities. I hope they get voted out of office.

    March 25, 2014 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  20. Brad

    Ukraine is destitute and republicans still want their cut…amazing!

    March 25, 2014 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  21. jamie

    Russia will get any aid we send. Obama needs to open his eyes and quit taking vacations.

    March 25, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    --so the gist of this entire story I read is Congress republicans are on the part of Russia???? Pathetic.

    March 25, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |