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U.S. House will consider Ukraine bill without IMF reforms

Source: Reuters - Fri, 21 Mar 2014 17:43 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee introduced a bill on Friday that provides aid to Ukraine, but does not include reforms to the International Monetary Fund requested by the Obama administration.

The bill's introduction in the Republican-led House could mean a showdown with the Democratic-led Senate, which is considering Ukraine legislation including the IMF measures.

The House "Ukraine Support Act" would put into law sanctions President Barack Obama introduced via executive order targeting individuals and businesses deemed to be involved with Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

It also calls on Obama to impose targeted sanctions against individuals - in and out of Russia - who have significant influence over Russian foreign policy.

The measure includes $50 million in aid to support transparency, accountability, rule of law, economic diversification and anti-corruption programs. It also authorizes Obama to use of to $8 million in contingency funds for Ukraine

The package is broadly similar to a bill passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee early this month, and due to be considered by the full Senate this week, starting with a procedural vote on Monday night.

Both the Senate and House bills back $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.

Backers have said the Senate bill will pass in that chamber, but questioned whether it could get through the House, where Republican leaders including Speaker John Boehner have accused the Obama administration of using the Ukraine crisis to push through the IMF reforms.

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.

But some Republican lawmakers complain that the IMF changes would cost too much and reduce American influence at the international organization. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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