Ukraine deal expected to pass Congress

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Congress is expected to complete a Ukraine aid and Russia sanctions bill on Thursday after three weeks of squabbling between House Republicans and Senate Democrats. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) agreement to strip International Monetary Fund reforms from the bill has paved the way for a final vote, but both sides were wrapping up details on the legislation Wednesday night.

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The Senate’s plan is to take up legislation the House passed on March 6 that grants $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. Senate leaders then plan to amend that bill by adding language on sanctions approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The House on Thursday will vote on a competing Russia sanctions bill that passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The House, at that point, could simply pass the new Senate version of the bill, but aides said some minor changes  would lead to the bill ping-ponging between the chambers. 

The House bill has broadcasting funding and language admonishing the State Department over Iran-related sanctions not in the Senate bill, for example. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday praised Senate Democrats for dropping the IMF demands. 

“Now, I hope we’ll be able to get our friends in Ukraine the aid they need without much delay,” Boehner said Wednesday. “This is what’s possible when Senate Democrats focus on finding common ground.

“But let’s be clear, this is only a small breakthrough, and we need to build on it,” he added.