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 Henry HoevenSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Chao names participants selected for drone pilot program MORE (N.D.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ 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 PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeFive Republican run-offs to watch in Texas Hillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel Lawmakers move to block government from ordering digital ‘back doors’ MORE (R-Texas), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelA letter to Donald Trump: Fix the Iran Deal, don’t nix it Melania Trump wears white pantsuit to State of the Union Democrats planning protests for Trump’s first State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.), Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachPa. GOP 'disappointed' by rep retiring after filing deadline Pennsylvania Republican Costello won't seek reelection Republican Pa. congressman won't seek reelection: report 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 LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewTech relishes role as Trump antagonist Overnight Tech: EU investigates Apple's Shazam buy | FCC defends GOP commissioners CPAC visit | Groups sue FTC for Facebook privacy records | A big quarter for Google Treasury pushes back on travel criticism with data on Obama-era 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.