OVERNIGHT MONEY: Senate focuses on Ukraine

TUESDAY'S BIG STORY:  

Focus on Ukraine: The Senate will continue work Tuesday passing a measure that would provide a combination of sanctions on Russia and assistance for Ukraine after moving forward on Monday.

There is a sense of urgency behind passage of a measure even though it was help up prior to last week’s recess and there are differences between the House and Senate measure.

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Progress on Ukraine legislation has been slowed mostly because some Republicans oppose the inclusion of a provision that would authorize reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up its bill, which has Democratic support, on Tuesday. That bill doesn’t include the IMF changes requested by the White House.

House Republican leaders say the IMF provisions are irrelevant to the Ukraine crisis.

President Obama and other Group of Seven leaders meeting in Brussels on Monday noted that the IMF would be taking a central role in Ukraine. His meetings continue in Europe on Tuesday.

Primarily, the IMF provision shifts $63 billion into a general loan pool so it's easier to access. 

The Senate measure provides $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, spends more than $100 million to promote democracy and security in Ukraine and imposes sanctions against anyone undermining Ukraine's security or independence.

Obama has called for aid to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the Crimean peninsula several weeks ago.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to hold a vote before the recess but couldn't get it done because of GOP objections.

“It’s almost unimaginable why they blocked it,” Reid said. “A few radical Republicans delayed this aid package by 10 days in order to protect the Koch brothers and billionaires like them.”

The conservative group, Heritage Action, urged senators to vote against the package because of the IMF language, although Club for Growth stayed out of the fight.

Administration officials argued that once the reform of the IMF is complete it would have much greater funds to provide to Ukraine and therefore the IMF language belongs in the aid bill.

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Spending focus: A Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday will talk to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and other government officials after the department’s fiscal 2015 budget request. Another subpanel will delve into the budget for the U.S. Capitol Police, the Senate sergeant at arms and the secretary of the Senate as well.

Budgeting in the House: House appropriators have a full slate of hearings on Tuesday. Lawmakers will hear from top federal government officials on funding needs for the Federal Communications Commission, Transportation Security Administration and the Navy and Marine Corps, among other agencies.

The House Budget Committee also will take a look at fiscal 2015 budget issues with members of Congress. Meanwhile, the House Small Business Committee will mark up on Tuesday its views and estimates of the budget request for the Small Business Administration.

Talking about the debt: The House Financial Services Committee will talk about the dangers posed by the nation's debt issue with several budget experts.  

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS 

S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Index: Home prices could have ticked up in January in the nation's 20 largest metropolitan areas, a housing price index report could say on Tuesday. The report is expected to show continued double-digit year-over-year increases, too.  

FHFA Housing Price Index: The Federal Housing Finance Agency will release its measure of prices for January on single-family homes.  

Consumer Confidence: The Conference Board's monthly report could show that confidence improved in March. The report can be helpful in predicting shifts in consumer spending.

New Home Sales: The Commerce Department releases its February report on new privately owned single-family houses sold and for sale. With severe winter weather plaguing most states, home sales are expected to have slowed down last month. 

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Survey: Economy will grow, Fed will end asset purchases this year

— Hoyer: GOP snubbed broad budget talks

— Chairman moves on expired tax breaks

— IRS commissioner to testify on controversy Wednesday

Housing regulator who clashed with Democrats exiting government

— Former interim IRS chief lands private sector gig

— Regulators propose appraisal oversight agencies

 

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