Boehner to Senate: Pass House aid bill

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday called on the Senate to pass the House’s aid package for Ukraine without adding a provision for the International Monetary Fund that the Obama administration is requesting.

“This IMF money isn’t necessary for dealing with this Ukraine crisis that we see today,” Boehner said at a Capitol press conference. “So, I think what the Senate ought to do is take up the House-passed loan guarantee package, and they could move it today. Beyond that, we’ll see what the Senate actually does.”

Legislation the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider on Wednesday includes language approving a restructuring of the IMF that would allow it to move $63 billion between accounts. The administration has pushed for it for months, saying it would ensure the U.S. retains clout within the international body. It is now arguing that the changes would allow Ukraine to access an additional $600 million through the IMF.

Conservatives have opposed the change, and in January, Republican leaders said they would only approve it if the administration agreed to hold off on an unrelated IRS rule affecting 501(c)(4) political groups.

Boehner will meet later Wednesday with the new prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is also meeting with President Obama.

Congress is trying to approve aid for Ukraine quickly to show support following the occupation of Crimea by Russian military forces.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) urged Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday to convince the Senate to drop the IMF provisions in order to expedite aid.

“This is not the time to try to attach riders to something of this importance,” Rogers said during a hearing.

Kerry responded that Congress needs to vote to allow the IMF reform, which cannot go ahead without U.S. support.

“It is only through the IMF, a reformed IMF, that Ukraine is going to receive the additional help that it needs in order to stand on its own two feet,” Kerry said.

— Erik Wasson contributed to this report.