Rubio supports Ukraine bill despite IMF reform

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that he would support a Senate aid package for Ukraine, despite the fact that it includes International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms he disagrees with.

“The need to do something about Ukraine so far outweighs the things about this legislation that we do not like,” Rubio said. “Support this legislation with all of its flaws so we can send a message.”

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Rubio, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, missed the panel vote two weeks ago on the measure being considered by the Senate, but he had said he wouldn’t support the bill because of the IMF reforms.

The controversial IMF provisions shift $63 billion within the body from a tightly controlled crisis fund to the general loan pool. It also approves a 2010 reform of the IMF designed to give developing nations a greater say in the running of the Fund, but which some conservatives say weakens U.S. power and prerogatives.

The IMF reforms are scored as costing $315 million, offset by cuts to State Department programs and Defense procurement accounts. While small relative to the $600 billion annual Pentagon budget, the cut has drawn ire from some defense hawks.

Rubio said he didn’t think it was smart of the Obama administration to insist that the language be included, since the measure would have passed by a huge margin two weeks ago if it weren’t included, but he said that worsening conditions on the ground makes sending a message to Russia even more important.

“I fear if we do not send this strong message this will be used against us,” Rubio said. “We cannot afford to make a mistake on this.”

The Senate bill would give Ukraine a $1 billion loan and more than $100 million in pro-democracy funds, and sanction Russians involved in the military action in Crimea.

The House is expected to pass a similar measure without the IMF reform, which GOP leaders say is unacceptable in their chamber.

— Erik Wasson contributed to this article.