Congress Just Voted To Punish Russia And Send Aid To Ukraine

Both the House of Representatives and Senate passed measures on Thursday that will provide aid to Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russian officials.

The Senate approved its version of the legislation by voice vote Thursday. Soon after, the House passed a slightly different version by a 399-19 vote. The Senate’s legislation was modified after Senate Democratic leaders agreed to drop a controversial provision containing reforms to the International Monetary Fund, which led to Republican opposition that prevented the bill from passing for weeks.

According to congressional aides, talks were ongoing about a reconciliation of the differing versions of the legislation. If all goes well, a final version could be on President Barack Obama’s desk by Thursday night.

The passage of legislation in Congress serves as a show of solidarity with Obama, who has called for a unified global response to the Ukrainian crisis. Obama has already announced two rounds of sanctions against Russian officials, including some against members of Putin’s inner circle last week.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bills include a $US1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine’s new government. The Senate version includes $US150 million in direct aid, and both include sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials directly involved in the crisis.

The loan had been promised to the new Ukrainian government by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry During a trip to Kiev more than three weeks ago.

“The House took another step today to strengthen Ukraine and sanction those responsible for undermining its sovereignty. In doing so, we have provided the president additional tools to punish Vladimir Putin, his cronies, and the institutions that support them,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the House vote.

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