Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said controversial reforms to the International Monetary Fund “must” be removed from a Senate bill that would provide aid to Ukraine.
McConnell made his comments on the Senate floor Tuesday, as multiple House Democrats openly criticised their Senate counterparts for trying to include the IMF provision in the Senate bill.
“Look: this bill cannot pass the House or become law in its current form — it must be amended,” McConnell said. “In order for it to become law, the controversial IMF provision must be removed. This simply cannot be a take or leave it situation. That’s just nonsensical.”
Three weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State promised a $US1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine’s new government. However, partisan battling over the IMF reforms has lasted weeks, delaying the passage of a bill that would both provide aid to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russian officials.
The controversial part of the Senate bill comes with a provision that would shift $US63 billion in International Monetary Fund money from a crisis fund to a general account.
Many Republicans object to the IMF reforms because they are partly paid for by taking money from accounts used to buy Army and Air Force aircraft and missiles. Republicans also argue the reforms would diminish U.S. influence, since they would let the U.S. shift the billions from crisis IMF accounts to its general lending fund.
Almost three weeks ago, the Republican-controlled House passed a Ukraine aid bill without the IMF provision. Now, some House Democrats who voted in favour of that measure are coming out and blasting their Senate counterparts and the White House for trying to force the issue by combining the IMF reform with Ukraine’s aid package.
“It makes us look silly and weak,” Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the most senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Foreign Policy magazine. “If there’s one thing Ukraine needs, it’s aid, it’s help … I’m for these reforms happening but I’m even more for immediate loan guarantees and aid to Ukraine.”
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