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 HoevenAir Force One is Trump’s new boardroom Overnight Finance: Trump strikes debt, spending deal with Dems | Deal shocks GOP | Fed’s No. 2 to resign | Trump keeps tax squeeze on red state Dems | House aims to pass budget next week Trump praises Dem senator during tax speech MORE (N.D.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions 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 bipartisan solution to stopping drive-by lawsuits Harvey response puts squeeze on GOP US Senate must follow House lead in combating human trafficking MORE (R-Texas), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Lois FrankelLois FrankelFormer CIA director: Don’t call Russian election hacking ‘act of war’ Palm Beach official proposes Mar-a-Lago tax to pay for Trump visits Members jam with Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban at Grammys on the Hill 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 LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewBipartisan bill would force Treasury to put Tubman on bill Top conservative rails against ‘clean’ debt limit increase Trump mocked Obama for three chiefs of staff in three years 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.