By Erik Wasson - 03/24/14 03:23 PM EDT
Heritage Action says it will punish members for backing Ukraine bill
The influential conservative group Heritage Action on Monday said it would punish any lawmaker who votes for the Senate's Ukraine bill in its annual ratings.
The Senate is set to hold a procedural vote on the Ukraine bill on Monday afternoon as Congress tries to come up with a legislative response to Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Heritage Action said the Senate bill must be defeated because it contains changes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that weakens the power of the U.S. in the organization. The House has passed a bill without the IMF language and is moving forward on a new version that also leaves out the reforms.
“Any attempt to conflate the two issues is politically motivated; indeed, the Obama Administration is misleading the American people to make these so-called reforms appear urgent,” Heritage Action said in an alert.
“Alarmingly, the proposed 'reforms' are not even in America’s best interest because they would reduce the power of the United States. In fact, the Heritage Foundation points out ‘the reform package would also increase Russia’s power at the IMF at the very time when the U.S. is seeking to punish Russia for its act of war and aggression in Crimea.’”
The group, which is the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, said any lawmaker who votes for the Ukraine bill will be assigned a negative mark on its annual scorecard.
The Heritage Foundation argues that Congress should not allow the IMF to shift $63 billion in contributions from a financial crisis fund to a more loosely controlled general fund. It also argues that making the IMF executive board an elected body reduces the ability of the U.S. to pick a board member.
An Obama administration official said the board member claim is false because the U.S., with its large 17 percent voting share in the Fund, would be guaranteed a board pick.
Senate Democrats expressed confidence on Monday that they would get at least five Republicans to join them in advancing the Ukraine bill, which provides $1 billion in loan guarantees and $150 million in direct aid while codifying sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians involved in the invasion, suppressing protests and perpetrating corruption.
The Senate bill passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee two weeks ago with four Republicans voting in support.
The Club for Growth, which often issues key vote alerts in tandem with Heritage Action, said Monday it does not take positions of foreign affairs.