House to vote on second Ukraine bill

The House will vote on legislation this week to bolster Ukraine and strengthen sanctions on Russia, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

The bill, which the Foreign Affairs Committee is considering on Tuesday, is the second substantive measure the House will send to the Senate since the crisis in Ukraine began. It comes even as the House and Senate continue to bicker over an initial aid package of loan guarantees because of the Obama administration’s push to include reforms to the International Monetary Fund.

“I’m glad the House put politics aside and came together in a bipartisan way to do what was right for our friends in Ukraine,” Cantor said following a meeting of the House Republican conference. “It’s time for the Senate to follow suit.”

The new House bill would supplement the earlier bill. While it does not include loan guarantees, it would broaden sanctions on Russian officials and businessmen, expand international Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts in Ukraine and Crimea, and provide $8 million to boost law enforcement efforts.

It does not include approval of IMF reforms that the Senate is considering, which House Republican leaders consider unrelated to the Ukraine crisis. The Obama administration has been pushing for that provision since before Russia’s occupation of Crimea, but it argues that its approval would allow Ukraine to access an additional $600 million on top of the $1 billion in loan guarantees both the House and Senate are likely to authorize.

The Senate advanced its proposal, which includes the IMF reforms, on a 78-17 vote on Monday. Final passage could come by Wednesday.

Asked if the Ukraine aid would fall victim to the partisan gridlock that has stalled most legislation on Capitol Hill, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) replied, “I would hope not.”

“Listen, the House has acted once already,” he said. “We’re going to act again later on this week to help the Ukrainians and to put sanctions on President Putin. What the Senate ought to be doing is taking up our bills and just moving them. What they’re trying to do here is bring unrelated items into this debate. All it’s going to do is slow the whole process down.

“I would hope we would find the common ground, pass it so we can help our friends,” Boehner said.

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