OVERNIGHT MONEY: Ukraine aid package gets House vote

THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:

Ukraine aid: The House on Thursday will vote on a bill that allows the U.S. to provide loan guarantees to Ukraine, an effort to help aid the country that is facing military intervention by Russia.

"Tomorrow, the House will vote on a bill to provide the administrate with authority to issue loan guarantees for Ukraine," tweeted Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday.  

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The legislation, introduced on Wednesday by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and panel ranking member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), modifies law to allow Ukraine to be eligible for U.S.-backed loan guarantees.

“Ukraine is a friend and valued partner to the United States, and as partners, we assist when another is in need," Rogers said.

"This legislation will help the government of Ukraine restore economic stability, and show the world that America supports the Ukrainian people."

Funds will be provided within the existing budget of the State Department. The loan guarantees will cover the risk of losses if Ukraine defaults, which is expected to send a positive signal to global financial markets.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew said the U.S. will provide $1 billion in guarantees, which will help cover the cost of Russian energy subsidies that are being cut back.

Earlier in the day, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Obama administration should quickly approve natural-gas exports to Ukraine to help them out on that front.

The bill is expected to be considered under suspension of the rules so it would need a two-thirds majority of the House.

A vote on a sanctions resolution on Russia could follow next week. 

Once the House acts, it will be up to the Senate to jump into the fray.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he wasn't sure how fast his chamber could move. 

The Senate is running behind because of a winter storm that delayed votes on Monday and Tuesday.  

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

More on the budget: Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is back on Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify about the fiscal 2015 budget before the House Ways and Means Committee. A couple of House Appropriations members also will get in on the act with hearings about the budget of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the House of Representatives.

Speaking of the CFTC: The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Timothy Massad to be chairman and a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The committee also will talk to Sharon Bowen and J. Christopher Giancarlo, who are nominated to be CFTC commissioners. 

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Service sector slow-down: The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that the services sector expansion slowed to 51.6 last month, the lowest level since February 2010, as bad weather weighed the economy.

The results were below the January reading of 54.

Hiring fell from expanding to contracting in February as the index dropped to 47.5 from 56.4, falling below 50 for the first time since December 2011. 

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits a day ahead of the February jobs report. 

Productivity-Unit Labor Costs: The Labor Department releases a revised report that measures the productivity of workers and the costs associated with producing a unit of output for the fourth quarter.

Factory Orders: The Commerce Department is releasing January data on factory orders that consist of the earlier announced durable goods report plus non-durable goods orders.

Challenger Job Cuts: The Chicago-based firm will release its February report on the number of jobs cuts that are planned by U.S. employers.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Lew argues tax increases in budget promote economic growth

— Obama makes minimum wage pitch in Conn.

— Senate Republicans question new IRS rule for non-profits

— Dem counters bitcoin backlash: Ban cash

— Yellen vows economic support at swearing-in

— Lois Lerner's lawyer: GOP seeking to 'vilify' her

— Fireworks at hearing as Lerner pleads Fifth

— WH official faces GOP ire on budget proposal

— Stock market surge helps Obama budget pay for new spending

— Winners, losers in ’15 blueprint

— Lawmakers: Our identities were stolen too

— Dave Camp: Term limits for gavels a mistake

— Wyden, Lew vow to 'economically, politically isolate' Russia

— Private-sector employers added 138,000 jobs in February

 

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