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) MenendezWhy is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates 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.


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 RischState watchdog to launch review of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' 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 JohnsonA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Sen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' 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 McCainOur military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' Meghan McCain blames 'toxic' hostility for 'The View' exit Beware the tea party of the left 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 appears poised to advance first Native American to lead National Park Service Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit 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 DurbinEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Manchin, Tester voice opposition to carbon tax Democrats feel high anxiety in Biden spending conflict 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.