Senate panel postpones Ukraine vote

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not hold votes as planned Tuesday on a bill providing aid to Ukraine and slapping sanctions on Russia over its incursion into Ukraine's Crimea region.

Aides said negotiations were continuing over the bill's details between Chairman Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (D-N.J.) and ranking member Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.), which could make getting a bill out of the Senate by the end of the week a heavy lift.

ADVERTISEMENT

Congress embarks on a weeklong recess starting March 14. If the Senate doesn't take action by then, lawmakers will leave Washington without providing any aid to Ukraine ahead of a Sunday vote on succession in Crimea.

Outstanding issues between Corker and Menendez include how to offset the cost of providing aid, as well as whether the bill is to include reforms to the International Monetary Fund being pushed by the White House. The Obama administration failed to get language shifting $63 billion in U.S. funds within the IMF during January negotiations on an omnibus spending bill.

Menendez told reporters the markup will be held on Wednesday and said the IMF provisions that President Obama wants would be included.

"I hope we have a strong bipartisan vote in the committee on it, and that will help an effort to include it in the Ukraine package," the chairman said.

"We are going to have a lot of other situations like Ukraine in the world, and we need to be ready," he said.

Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims Lobbying world Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (R-Idaho), another committee member, said the $63 billion IMF shift in the bill is offset with appropriated funds for the war in Afghanistan. 

Risch said that larger approval of IMF reforms would be a problem for him and could hurt the bill’s chances in the House.

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Liberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol MORE (R-Wis.) said including the IMF provision would be a mistake. 

"You are not going to get unified support. It gives a lot of us heartburn," he said.

The IMF in 2012 proposed a far-reaching reform that doubled member financial contributions to its general loan fund and gave advanced developing countries like Russia, Brazil, India and China more voting rights.

Conservatives are reluctant to support the plan because they worry it will give the U.S. less power in the organization.

The U.S. has a 16.73 percent voting share in the IMF, which effectively gives Congress veto power over the changes, since the reform package needs 85 percent of all shares to agree.

America’s contribution quota is to the IMF is set to increase by $63 billion. The Obama administration has proposed shifting the money from a special crisis fund to the general IMF loan pool.

Republicans argue that shift would put the money in a fund with less U.S. influence, since general loans are approved by a simple majority of the IMF Executive Board. They also noted that the reform would make the board an elected body rather than guaranteeing that the U.S. always has a representative on it.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE (R-Ariz.) said the priority should be getting Congress to advance a Ukraine bill and cautioned against bogging it down with a fight over IMF funding. McCain said any lawmaker who would object to a Ukraine bill over an IMF provision has their priorities "terribly skewed."

Separately, Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Manchin, Barrasso announce bill to revegetate forests after devastating fires Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (R-Wyo.) has been pushing to have the Senate bill include language allowing natural gas exports to Ukraine. He was to offer language on natural gas as an amendment at Tuesday's markup.

The House last week overwhelmingly passed a bill making Ukraine eligible for U.S. loan guarantees, but that bill did not include IMF reform provisions.

On Tuesday, the House is set to vote on a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine. Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook MORE (D-Ill.) and Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE (R-Ind.) have reached a deal on a similar bipartisan resolution for the upper chamber.

House members are scheduled to receive a classified briefing at 5 p.m. on the unfolding situation from officials from the departments of State, Defense and Treasury, and from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

According to a House aide, the briefers will be Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of State handling Europe; Assistant Defense Secretary Derek Chollet; intelligence official Robert Cardillo; and two Treasury officials: David Cohen, who oversees anti-terror efforts and Daleep Singh, who focuses on European affairs. 

— This story was last updated at 1:40 p.m.