Ukraine Aid Advances in Senate but Cruz, Barrasso Push for Votes on Amendments

A bill to provide aid to Ukraine cleared a procedural vote Monday evening, as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, signaled he would not object to expediting the bill if he gets a vote on an amendment striking the International Monetary Fund provision. But Senate Democrats may not have an incentive to allow any amendments votes on the bill given that they likely have the 60 votes needed to clear any procedural hurdles. If both sides stand their ground, that would mean the Senate would likely next vote around midnight Tuesday. “Its silly that we are running the clock when we got 78 votes” to advance the bill, said a senior Senate Democratic aide. The aide’s comment came after the Senate voted 78 to 17 to cut off debate on the motion to proceed to the measure, significantly more than the 60 votes were needed to advance the bill. While all Democrats voted in favor of the proposal, seventeen Republicans voted against, including Cruz. Republican objections to the bill were spurred by the IMF provision, which would approve an overhaul of the IMF’s structure, which they argue would end up costing taxpayers. The next vote on the measure is expected to come late Tuesday evening, unless a unanimous consent agreement can be reached to vote sooner. But Republicans that oppose the measure may not be willing to expedite the vote unless they get votes on amendments. “I've indicated yes, if we get a vote on the amendment to strip IMF out, then we won't object to timing or procedural issues,” Cruz said. Others also want to offer amendments, including Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who wants to offer a proposal expediting liquid natural gas exports, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who co-sponsored an amendment that would create a law enforcement partnership between the United States and Ukraine to combat cyber-crime. Some amendments could be considered if Republicans threaten to abandon the bill to force Democrats' hand on the issue, but it's unclear if that is a possibility. However, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has been a vocal supporter of the measure, said he believes efforts were ongoing to consider a limited number of germane or relevant amendments.