Committee leaders head to Ukraine, plan energy talks

The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will travel to Ukraine next week amid signs that tension with Russia is increasing. 

Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif) and ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) will lead the delegation from April 21–23, the committee announced Wednesday.

The delegation will focus on meeting representatives of all major political parties as well as civil society groups organizing for the next presidential election. 

The committee members will also look at “Ukraine’s efforts to diversify its energy supply.”  

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Ukraine refused to pay its natural gas bill earlier this month after Russia energy monopoly Gazprom increased the cost. 

On Capitol Hill, the issue of exporting natural gas to Ukraine and Eastern European countries has gained momentum as tension with Russia rises. Two Senate Republicans, John HoevenJohn HoevenA guide to the committees: Senate GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies MORE (N.D.) and John McCainJohn McCainA guide to the committees: Senate Webb: The future of conservatism New national security adviser pick marks big change on Russia MORE (Ariz.) visited Norway earlier this week to work with energy officials on finding alternative sources.

Opponents of the push argue the increased exports could raise domestic energy costs and thereby nip a manufacturing resurgence in the bud. 

Reps. Ted PoeTed PoeA guide to the committees: House Lawmakers debate allowing cameras in courtrooms Hey Congress: Where’s the ban on ISIS? MORE (R-Texas), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Lois FrankelLois FrankelA guide to the committees: House House Dems: Force Flynn to testify before Foreign Affairs panel House votes to permanently ban taxpayer funds for abortion MORE (D-Fla.), Jim GerlachJim GerlachFormer reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia With Trump and GOP Congress, job creators can go on offense Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE (R-Pa.), and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) will be on the trip as well. 

“Our delegation will be an important show of support for a country under increasing economic strain and security threats.  It will also be an opportunity for the Foreign Affairs Committee at this critical time to take a measure of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help Ukraine maintain its sovereignty,” Royce said.

Congress this month passed a bill that gives Ukraine $1 billion in loan guarantees and codifies a range of sanctions on Ukrainian and Russian officials. 

Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewOne year later, the Iran nuclear deal is a success by any measure Chinese President Xi says a trade war hurts the US and China Overnight Finance: Price puts stock trading law in spotlight | Lingering questions on Trump biz plan | Sanders, Education pick tangle over college costs MORE signed the loan guarantee agreement with Ukraine Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak on Monday. The White House on Wednesday was preparing to implement a new round of sanctions. 

Russia is threatening to take action at the World Trade Organization, which it joined with President Obama’s help, over the new sanctions, the Financial Times reports

Laura Barron-Lopez contributed.