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Sunday, February 25, 2018

U.S. Congress passes aid package to Ukraine without IMF reforms

Both chambers of Congress passed bills on Thursday providing aid to Ukraine, backing a $1 billion loan guarantee for the interim government and imposing further sanctions on Russians over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The votes on the legislation came two days after Senate Democrats agreed to take out reforms to the International Monetary Fund that were opposed by many Republicans, Reuters reports.

Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday that the U.S. is in a dangerous moment in history with global consequences. He took to the Senate floor to explain the decision to remove the IMF reforms.

"I believe we need to act now, this week," Menendez said. "So although I also believe that our response to Russia's annexation of Crimea should include IMF reforms-to strengthen the assistance package for Ukraine and strengthen U.S. global leadership, I recognize that us being able to move that package this week is unlikely."

Menendez blamed the Republicans for linking support for the IMF reforms to partisan political issues.

"The House Republican leadership has proven itself intransigent on IMF reform and we all know why - trying to link support for IMF reforms on of C-4 political committees that may have violated campaign finance laws - and may have individuals who illegally use them to influence federal elections is outrageous," Menendez said.

Menendez said that while he was not happy about the decision to remove IMF reforms, the U.S. must send the message of support to Ukraine and resolve to Russia. Even if that means the IMF takes the leadership role in stabilizing Ukraine's fragile economy.

The House and Senate must now decide how to resolve differences between the two bills before the final draft legislation can be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law, Reuters reports.

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