The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-3 for the measure,
with several committee Republicans joining the Democratic majority
in favor. The bill next goes to the full Senate for a vote. If it
passes there, it would have to win approval in the House of
Representatives to become law.
The panel acted on the same day President Barack Obama met with
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk at the White House in a
high-profile show of support. Obama warned Russia that the West
would be forced to apply a cost to Moscow if it fails to change
course in the dispute with Ukraine.
Among other things, the legislation would impose sanctions on
Russians and Ukrainians judged to be involved in violence or human
rights violations during anti-government protests in Ukraine that
began late last year, as well as against anyone involved in
undermining Ukraine's security and stability.
The legislation also directs U.S. authorities to help Ukraine's new
government investigate acts of corruption and return assets to Kiev.
It did not target Russian corporations or banks, as some lawmakers
had suggested after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops
into Ukraine's Crimea region.
Committee members said the bill was a strong one.
"In my view, President Putin has miscalculated by starting a game of
Russian roulette with the international community, and we will never
accept this violation of international law," said Democratic Senator
Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the committee's chairman.
The sanctions would include freezing assets held in the United
States, travel bans and denying visas.
The measure also provides $50 million in democracy, governance and
civil society assistance for Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced
security cooperation for Ukraine and other countries in Central and
It authorizes $1 billion in loan guarantees, in addition to millions
of dollars in aid.
IMF REFORMS POTENTIAL STICKING POINT
One of the most controversial aspects of the legislation are reforms
of the International Monetary Fund, which were requested by the
Obama administration but left out of a Ukraine loan guarantee
package passed last week by the House.
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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 maintain U.S. influence at the lender and make
good on a commitment from 2010.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called the vote an important step and
said it was "imperative" that the measure become law.
Some Republicans worry about the IMF's lending to richer European
nations and possible losses on loans by the fund. Before passing the
full bill, the committee voted down an amendment that would have
removed the IMF provision from the bill.
John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, said earlier on
Wednesday that he did not think the Ukraine bill should include the
IMF reforms. "This IMF money isn't necessary for dealing with this
Ukraine crisis that we see today," he said.
The three "no" votes in the committee for the overall bill were all
cast by Republican senators: James Risch of Idaho, Rand Paul of
Kentucky and John Barrasso of Wyoming. They questioned how
Washington would pay for the loan guarantees and expressed concern
about the IMF reform.
Barrasso had offered an amendment authorizing exports of liquefied
natural gas to Ukraine and NATO members, but Menendez ruled that the
proposal fell outside the committee's jurisdiction.
Separately, a group of eight senators, six of them foreign relations
committee members, are leaving on Thursday on a visit to Ukraine to
meet with leaders of its interim government and other groups.
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell;
editing by Bill Trott and
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