By Russell Berman - 03/26/14 12:37 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised Senate Democrats for dropping a demand to include reforms to the International Monetary Fund in a Ukraine aid package and voiced optimism that the measure could reach President Obama’s desk soon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) relented on the sticking point on Tuesday, bowing to Boehner’s insistence that the House would not accept the IMF provision as part of Ukraine aid legislation.
“But let’s be clear, this is only a small breakthrough, and we need to build on it,” he added.
The Senate could pass its bill as early as Thursday, but Boehner would not say whether the House would simply accept that version or try to attach additional Ukraine assistance and sanctions against Russia that cleared the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
“We’re in conversations with the Senate in terms of how do we clear through this,” he said. “But our goal is to work together and to get this bill done as quickly as possible.”
The Speaker was cautiously optimistic that the House and Senate would not get stuck again on legislation that has been in the works for several weeks. The House early in March passed a bill to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine that is already part of the Senate package.
“You never know, but there’s an awful lot of cooperation underway to try to avoid that,” he said.
Asked whether he wanted the bill done by the end of the week, Boehner said the goal was “as soon as possible.”
The House Foreign Affairs bill contains some provisions not in the Senate package, including more money for international broadcasting to Ukraine and language reprimanding the administration for failing to sanction Russians for proliferation to Iran and Syria under existing law.