McCain: GOP senators opposing Ukraine bill are 'dead wrong'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that he is “embarrassed” by members of his own party who are running "a fools errand" by blocking a bill that would help Ukraine and place sanctions on Russia.

“The people from Ukraine are crying out,” McCain said. “Where are our priorities?”

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to get unanimous consent to set up a vote on S. 2124 — a bipartisan bill that would provide $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine and allow for sanctions against Russians who helped invade Ukraine. McCain said that bill was better than a House version because it actually incentivizes Russia to back down.

The measure is aimed at addressing Russia's military invasion into Crimea.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) objected to Reid’s request. Some Republicans have demanded the addition of language delaying an Internal Revenue Service regulation because Democrats included reforms to the International Monetary Fund. 

Barrasso tried to get unanimous consent to pass the House bill, H.R. 4152, which passed earlier this month, but Reid objected.

McCain said Republicans blocking this bill should no longer be able to call themselves “Reagan Republicans” because he said the former president would have never let this happen.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he didn't support the Senate bill because it "violates the budget." But McCain said he was "dead wrong."

"Your argument is wrong that this is taking money out of defense," McCain said. "You are dead wrong."

The Senate bill pays for $315 million in costs associated with the IMF reform partly by cutting defense procurement.

Earlier Thursday, Reid blamed this obstruction on David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who want tax-exempt status for their political organizations, including Americans for Prosperity. 

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said GOP action was so outlandish that even “House of Cards” would reject it as a plot line for an episode of the television show.

Reid then filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2124, meaning senators won’t take up the issue until they return from a week-long recess. The Senate measure is expected to get the 60 votes needed to overcome some Republican obstruction, but House Republicans have voiced opposition to the bill. 

"This is the first legislative matter we take up when we get back here," Reid said. "There is nothing more important than this."

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