U.S. Senate, House approve separate Ukraine aid bills
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday approved separate bills that would provide financial assistance for Kiev and impose sanctions against Russian officials over Moscow's annexation of Crimea.
The Senate passed their bill in a voice vote, while House lawmakers voted 399-19 in favor of a legislation. Both bills include sanctions against Russia officials including freezing assets and banning visas while setting aside millions of dollars in funding to support Ukraine's economy.
Lawmakers in both chambers need to work on how to reconcile differences between the two bills so a single legislation can finally be sent to U.S. President Barack Obama for signature.
Senate Democrats on Tuesday dropped their demand that a provision to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF) be included in a Ukraine aid package, a move they hoped would clear the way for a swift passage of the Ukraine aid in Congress.
House Republicans earlier called on the Senate to simply pass sanctions and aid legislation instead of combining them with the IMF reform provision which has been sought by the Obama administration and was included in the original bill written by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The White House has expressed disappointment over the removal of the IMF reform language from the bill.
"Congress's failure to pass legislation to implement the 2010 IMF quota reform is blocking the international effort to put the Fund's finances on a more stable long term footing and limits the tools available for Ukraine," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.
IMF quota and governance reform package, approved in 2010, would boost the global lender's resources and give emerging economies a bigger say. As the biggest shareholder of the 188- member institution, the United States currently holds 16.75 percent of the IMF voting shares, which gives it the veto power to the reform package that needs 85 percent of the total voting shares to take effect.
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