The House and Senate returned from recess yesterday.
The Senate took up an aid and sanctions package in response to Russia’s aggression toward its neighbor, Ukraine.
The bill cleared a procedural hurdle on a vote of 78-17, but Republican support could erode if amendments aren’t considered.
At issue is the Ukraine package’s inclusion of tweaks to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which would shift $63 billion from its crisis fund to its general fund and give China, Brazil and India more influence over the IMF. Many Republicans view the IMF changes as unnecessary and argue they should either be dropped completely or considered in exchange for something the Republicans want—a delayed implementation of the Obama administration’s new rules that would limit political activity of tax-exempt nonprofits (501(c)(4)s). In addition to feeling the IMF provisions are unrelated to the aid/sanction package, Republicans also oppose the Senate’s plan to pay for the IMF changes which would siphon funding away from the Pentagon and State Department. If Republican amendments are ignored, a final Senate vote on the Ukraine package could be delayed until Friday.
On the House side, the Foreign Affairs Committee has released its own package designed to address aid and sanctions related to the Ukraine crisis. The bill is nearly identical to the Senate version, but does not include the IMF language. The committee plans to consider the bill today and the full body could act on the measure later this week.
Today, the House will consider the Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act (H.R. 2824), which would shield mountaintop coal mining practices from additional regulation for the next five years.
In other news, this morning, Rep. David Camp (R-Michigan), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee released a memo signaling his willingness to hold hearings on expired tax provisions—referred to as "tax extenders." Senate Finance Committee chair, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), is also expected to consider the Senate version of the tax extenders package beginning the week of March 31st.