$1 billion loan guarantee continues to be held up over continuing disagreements between Senate and House on International Monetary Fund reforms
Lawmakers returning to the Capitol after a weeklong recess will find that not much has changed on the issue of supposedly vital aid to Ukraine.
The Senate will likely pass a package this week, only to see it blocked by the House of Representatives over continuing disagreements on International Monetary Fund reforms. The Senate voted 78-17 to move the bill to the floor on Monday, and will likely hold a final vote Wednesday.
On March 6, the House voted to authorize a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine with only 23 Republican votes in opposition. But the Senate would like to grant that funding, in addition to $150 million of security and governance assistance, on condition that the IMF shift $63 billion from a crisis account to its general fund. The Obama Administration says that the measure would fulfill a four-year old promise to give emerging economies like China, Mexico, Brazil and India more influence at the organization.
Members of the minority caucus in each chamber have made clear their desire to get something done. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Monday that he is for the IMF reforms, as they would provide $600 million in addition to the $1 billion in loan guarantees. It is not, however, an all-or-nothing proposition for him. “If we can’t get that passed, we ought to pass the $1 billion without the IMF [reforms] 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 that Ukraine is a viable economic unit,” said Hoyer. “I certainly think the massing of troops makes it more important that we act and act decisively and quickly.”
Enough Republican senators believe in the Senate bill to get the proposal passed. Republicans Dan Coats, John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Corker are among those who have said that they would support the Senate bill with or without the IMF provision.
“I’ll support it either way,” Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) tells TIME. “I think it’s just so important that we get that message there. I just don’t want to be part of an effort that delays it.”