U.S House plans Ukraine bill without IMF reforms -congressional sources

by Reuters
Friday, 21 March 2014 00:17 GMT

(Adds details, background)

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee will introduce a bill on Friday that provides aid to Ukraine but will not include reforms of the International Monetary Fund requested by the Obama administration and contained in the Senate version, congressional aides said on Thursday.

The bill includes many of the provisions included in a bill passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has key differences including the absence of the IMF reforms, a congressional aide told Reuters. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the pending legislation publicly.

The House panel's move means that the aid measure, if passed by the full Senate and House, would have to go to a conference committee that would reconcile the two versions before legislation could be passed and sent for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The Obama administration has been pushing Congress for a year to approve a shift of $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts to make good on a commitment from 2010 and maintain U.S. influence at the international lender.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee included the shift in a Ukraine bill that was passed - with support from Democrats and Republicans - by the panel early this month.

That legislation included backing for $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians, and economic aid for the new Kiev government, as well as the IMF reforms.

But the measure did not come up for a vote in the full Senate, where some Republicans said it should not include the IMF provisions.

Some Republican lawmakers complain that the IMF changes would cost too much and reduce American influence at the international organization. Backers said they expected the bill would pass the Senate, where Democrats control 55 of the seats. At least a handful of Republicans have come out in support of the legislation.

Influential House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, had said they did not think U.S. Ukraine legislation should address a divisive issue like the IMF changes, indicating a bill including them would face a difficult road to passage in the Republican-controlled chamber. The House previously passed a Ukraine bill including only the $1 billion loan guarantees.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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