Congress steps into action on Ukraine
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[March 07, 2014]
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. House of
Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill backing $1
billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, the first formal response by
U.S. lawmakers to the worst crisis in U.S.-Russia relations since the
The measure passed in a 385-23 vote.
The U.S. Senate is expected to consider a similar bill next week. If
passed as expected, it would be sent to the White House for
President Barack Obama to sign into law.
House and Senate committees held hearings on Thursday at which
administration officials testified about the situation in Ukraine
following Russia's military incursion into its Crimea region.
Obama ordered sanctions on people responsible for Moscow's military
intervention on Thursday, including travel bans and freezing of
their U.S. assets. But Republicans said he has not done enough and
that what they called his weak foreign policy had emboldened Russian
President Vladimir Putin.
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, said the administration had made a
mistake by "thinking that someone like Putin reacts to warmth and
charm and reachout."
"What he really reacts to is weakness and I think he has seen that
in our foreign policy efforts over the course of this last year,"
Republican lawmakers — and many Democrats — in both houses of
Congress urged Obama to do more.
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The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a symbolic resolution
responding to Russia's military incursion into Crimea. That measure
condemns the violation of Ukraine's sovereignty by Russia, while
calling for sanctions on Russian officials and state agencies.
"This resolution is one part of a larger effort to provide
assistance to Ukraine and to impose real costs on Russia for its
actions, which this committee is working on," U.S. Representative Ed
Royce of California, the committee's Republican chairman, said in a
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Bill Trott)
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