U.S. Congress steps into action on Ukraine

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 6, 2014 6:20pm EST

Demonstrators call on the U.S. to take measures against Russia's recent actions in Ukraine, in front of the White House in Washington March 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Demonstrators call on the U.S. to take measures against Russia's recent actions in Ukraine, in front of the White House in Washington March 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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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 Cold War.

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," Corker continued.

Republican lawmakers - and many Democrats - in both houses of Congress urged Obama to do more.

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 statement.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Comments (4)
Laster wrote:

Mar 06, 2014 9:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
agular17 wrote:
So, spending money we do not have is “stepping into action”.

Mar 07, 2014 12:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
orangeNblue wrote:
What more do the Republicans want Obama to do? The Crimean people don’t even want to be apart of Ukraine, so that’s a lost cause. So far all Putin is doing is protecting his naval base, which is exactly what we would be doing if it were us in the same situation. Also, many of the countries in the EU highly depend on Russia for their oil and business, so they’re not exactly highly motivated to slap on sanctions that will in turn hurt themselves. This is the main reason why Obama can’t do more. Sometimes you have to think about people other than yourself, which I know is difficult for Republicans to do.

Mar 07, 2014 9:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
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