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

Obama Pledges 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace Christmas precisely because of its non-religious glamor and commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid