House lawmakers may vote as soon as next week on a bill to expand U.S. sanctions on Russia and those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including more asset freezes and visa bans for senior officials and corporations.
The bill doesn’t include changes that would provide more money for the International Monetary Fund, a proposal that has become a dispute between U.S. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, who have opposed them for years.
The measure would codify sanctions already announced by Obama, while encouraging more for any individual “whom the president determines wields significant influence over the formation and implementation of Russian foreign policy” especially in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, according to the bill’s text.
“If Mr. Putin’s ambitions are to be checked, we must take more steps to put pressure on Russia; thus I expect the House to move to impose greater costs on Mr. Putin and the oligarchs from Russia,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, wrote in a memo to lawmakers yesterday.
“The U.S. and our European friends should be bolstering the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, said in a statement. “That means aiding Ukraine’s fledgling democracy, with its May elections looming, and bolstering its economy, including by helping break Putin’s energy grip over Eastern Europe.”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to consider the bill on March 25. The measure may come up for a vote in the House later that week, according to a schedule released by Cantor’s office.
The measure, H.R. 4278, includes additional economic assistance for Ukraine and would signal U.S. plans to increase natural gas exports. Republicans have said that would eventually increase supply, reducing Russia’s dominance in gas exports that looms as an economic threat against Eastern Europe.
The Obama administration will consider the turmoil in Ukraine as it weighs whether to approve additional exports of natural gas, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington yesterday.
The Senate is debating a Ukraine aid package, S. 2124, that would provide a $1 billion loan guarantee to the country and authorize $150 million in direct assistance. It includes sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians considered responsible for violence and intimidation as Russia took control of Crimea.
The Senate measure includes the IMF funding. A procedural vote on it is scheduled for March 24.
Source : Bloomberg