News / USA

US Congressional Action on Ukraine Aid Delayed by IMF Disputes

Cindy Saine
A dispute over International Monetary Fund borrowing quotas is delaying efforts by the U.S. Congress to pass an emergency aid package for the interim Ukrainian government, which is facing a potential default and Russian military intervention in the Crimean peninsula.  Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on lawmakers to include IMF reform as a critical part of a loan package to Ukraine, but some House Republicans are skeptical.

U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Congress to take quick action to get American assistance to the beleaguered interim government of Ukraine. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a $1-billion aid package, with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats. The bill did not include a request by the president, though, to approve reforms to the International Monetary Fund that would give developing countries a bigger say at the international lender.

Now, a bill is heading to the Senate floor that would increase the package to $1.6 billion by expanding loan limits for countries like Ukraine. The Senate and House versions of the bill have to match before they can go to the president for his signature.

House Republicans say IMF reforms are a separate issue. Republican House Speaker John Boehner called on the Senate to pass the House version before an upcoming one-week congressional recess. “The House has acted on a loan-guarantee package with strong bipartisan support. The Senate should pass the bill before the District work period," he said.

Republican Representative Mark Meadows said he wants to get aid to Ukraine as soon as possible, but he explained that some lawmakers are concerned about risks to American taxpayers if IMF loan limits increase.

“You know we want to make sure that those, one are put to best use. The other is that there is a real plan, that it is not just writing a check for $15 billion or $20 billion, whatever the case may be. So, I think working through that, I do believe it will get worked out,” said Meadows.

Speaking to a Senate subcommittee Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry made a strong appeal for Congress to include IMF reforms in a Ukraine loan package. “Our leadership on this is now in doubt. When people say the United States is retreating, we are inadvertently hurting ourselves by sending a message that we are not prepared to lead and step up and complete the task. We are the only country that has not ratified this,” said Kerry.

Other countries have ratified the proposed changes to the IMF, which President Barack Obama helped to negotiate in 2010.

The ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, said Congress needs to act fast.

"So it’s a little bit of a standoff and I’m hoping it will resolve itself quickly because we really cannot afford to have the aid just sit," said Engel. "Ukraine needs it forthwith, immediately, yesterday, and I’m hoping that the White House and the leadership in the House can work through the differences on Ukraine, have a meeting of minds and get the aid to Ukraine as quickly as possible.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are voicing optimism that an agreement will be reached, because there is overwhelming unity that the United States should show strong support for the people of Ukraine.

  • An armed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard outside an Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol, March 13, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian serviceman closes a gate as an armed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard outside an Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol March 13, 2014.
  • A woman walks past a barricade as a Ukrainian flag flutters in the wind in Kyiv's Independence Square, March 13, 2014.
  • People talk about developments in Ukraine at a central square next to a statue of Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in Donetsk, Ukraine, March 12, 2014.
  • A woman passes by posters in support of Ukraine during the International poster campaign, Kyiv, March, 12, 2014.
  • People talk in Independence Square, Kyiv, March, 12, 2014.
  • A woman holds a dog sporting shoes and a ribbon in the colors of the Russian flag outside the regional parliament building in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 12, 2014.
  • A member of a self-defense volunteer group, with makeshift shin guards bearing a picture of a wolf, polishes his boots in Kyiv's Independence Square, March 11, 2014. 
  • Members of a Crimean self-defense unit check the passport of a passenger at the railway station in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, March 11, 2014. 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs