News / USA

US Congress to Act Soon on Ukraine Aid, Russian Sanctions

FILE - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
FILE - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Michael Bowman
Prospects are improving for U.S. congressional approval of an aid package for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, as House and Senate lawmakers resolve differences between the chambers. A bill could be ready for President Barack Obama's signature by week's end.

Capitol Hill is rife with bipartisan desire to respond to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and congressional action has never been in serious doubt.

"The world is watching," said Democrat Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "And the world’s superpower cannot be seen as incapable of rising to Russia’s challenge."

But the exact formulation of a bill to assist Ukraine and punish Russia hit a partisan snag earlier this week.

Some Republicans objected to a provision in a bill before the Democratic-led Senate that would have shifted U.S. contributions to the International Monetary Fund so as to facilitate IMF loans to Ukraine and other nations in times of duress. Democrats and the Obama administration defended the measure as beneficial to Ukraine and the global financial system. Skeptical Republicans said it would impose costs on U.S. taxpayers.

While Senate debate dragged on, leaders in the Republican-led House of Representatives signaled the provision would not pass their chamber. Late Tuesday, Senate Democrats conceded defeat and dropped the IMF measure.   

“You are going to get your way today," Menendez told his Republican colleagues. "And I would hope that the rest of this package - which provides a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine, that provides sanctions against the Russian regime and others who corrupted the previous Ukrainian government and who have violated its territorial integrity - all other elements of this legislation should have universal support."

Republicans who objected to the IMF provision applauded the move. Final Senate passage is expected early Thursday. On the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner promised swift action.

“We are in conversations with the Senate in terms of how we clear through this. Our goal is to work together and get this bill done as quickly as possible," he said.

Boehner said he wants Congress to give Obama tools that “put him in as strong a position as possible” to deal with the crisis in Ukraine.

Whether the House simply votes on the Senate bill or passes its own version that would have to go back to the Senate remains to be seen. Both chambers must pass identical versions for a bill to become law.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More