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) MenendezMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Dem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE (D-N.J.) and ranking member Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.), which could make getting a bill out of the Senate by the end of the week a heavy lift.


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 RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate vote on Trump's new NAFTA held up by committee review Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike 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 JohnsonHillicon Valley: Barr asks Apple to unlock Pensacola shooter's phone | Tech industry rallies behind Google in Supreme Court fight | Congress struggles to set rules for cyber warfare with Iran | Blog site Boing Boing hacked Congress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Senators set for briefing on cyber threats from Iran 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 McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials 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 BarrassoSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Green groups raise alarms about alleged Pentagon incineration of 'forever chemicals' House passes sweeping bill to target spread of toxic 'forever chemicals' 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Durbin says he hopes enough GOP senators know that 'history will find you' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) and Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm DHS issues bulletin warning of potential Iranian cyberattack 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.