House Will Vote Thursday on Ukraine Aid

The House will vote Thursday on legislation extending financial aid to Ukraine, while a vote on a resolution supporting sanctions on Russia could follow next week. Members and aides told CQ Roll Call there is little to no pushback against voting on the loan legislation and they expect it to pass easily. “Clearly there is a dire situation unfolding, so the House is moving as quickly as possible to provide the administration with authority to issue loan guarantees for Ukraine,” said Rory Cooper, spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. The bill would come up under suspension of the rules, meaning it would need a two-thirds majority of the House. Action in the Senate won't be quite so swift, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. According to the Nevada Democrat, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey briefed fellow Democrats on what he's doing with Ranking Member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., to provide assistance for Ukraine. “He and Sen. Corker are trying to move forward with an aid package that we should be to get out of here as soon as we can. Whether I can do it next week, I don't know,” Reid said. "There's a lot of pressure to complete everything in the next 48 hours here, and I don't know if we can do that.” The legislation would allow Ukraine up to around $1 billion in loan guarantees from the State Department at a cost of roughly $200 million to the United States, according to House GOP aides. The money would come from existing State Department funds, which exist to offer loan guarantees to Jordan and Tunisia. It doesn't include separate IMF language sought by the White House, however. “State Department has plenty of funds for loan guarantees, but it specifies the countries in the current law,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said. “We want to add Ukraine to that list, so that it is eligible for State Department monies.” Democrats said they are generally supportive of the loan guarantee bill and a sanctions bill that could come up next week. The House already overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning violence in Ukraine, but Russian forces have since entered the country, so the resolution would likely express support for economic sanctions against Russia. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to mark up the sanctions resolution Thursday morning. “There’ll be some dissent, but I think we’ll have strong bipartisan support,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “Russia has to pay a cost for this, otherwise they’ll feel they can act with impunity in violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbors.” The Senate is scheduled to take a weeklong St. Patrick's Day recess. While the Senate was in session Monday and Tuesday, and Reid was in the Capitol each day, the chamber didn't hold votes either day due to the winter storm. That's left a backlog of procedural votes pending on nominations, as well as an expected debate on legislation to address sexual assault in the military and a child development block grant authorization. At the current pace, the Senate may only proceed to the block grant bill before leaving for the weekend, even though it was expected to be the dominant legislative business for the week. As in the House, Reid anticipated the aid to Ukraine would move first, separate from sanctions against Russia. "It would be a two-step process, as far as I know," Reid said.