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Ukraine aid bill delayed a few more days in U.S. Congress

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, accompanied by fellow GOP lawmakers, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, following a GOP caucus lunch. From left are, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. Relenting to GOP objections, Democrats have decided to remove a major roadblock preventing Congress from passing legislation authorizing sanctions on Russia and providing aid to

WASHINGTON: U.S. lawmakers overwhelmingly approved aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, but the measure will not become law until at least next week, congressional aides said on Friday.

The House of Representatives left for the weekend without approving a final version of the legislation. Aides said it would be considered first thing when members return to Washington on Tuesday, April 1.

After weeks of partisan wrangling over what should be contained in the legislation, the Senate and House on Thursday quickly passed separate, and largely similar, bills to help stabilize Ukraine's weak economy and punish those involved for Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

As the measures passed, congressional leaders reached an agreement for the Republican-controlled House to approve the Democratic-led Senate bill and send it to President Barack Obama to sign into law before the end of the week.

The legislation supports $1 billion in loan guarantees for Kiev, provides $150 million in aid to Ukraine and surrounding countries and imposes sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

It does not include the International Monetary Fund reforms sought by the White House that were resisted by many Republicans. Senate Democrats agreed to drop the IMF provision in order to move the legislation quickly.

But the House did not pass the Senate bill as was expected on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Eric Cantor, the Republican House Majority Leader, said there was less urgency after the IMF reached an agreement to release billions to the government in Kiev.

She also said members wanted their votes to be on the record supporting Ukraine, rather than passing the bill by unanimous consent - a way of declaring an issue decided, without taking a roll-call vote - and House leaders agreed.

 

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