U.S. Senate leaders mull dropping IMF provision from Ukraine bill: aide

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:40pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democratic leaders are discussing whether to drop reforms to the International Monetary Fund from a Ukraine aid bill, but have not yet made a decision, a senior Democratic Senate aide said on Tuesday.

The reforms, supported by Senate Democrats and the Obama administration, have threatened to derail the Ukraine legislation because they are opposed by most Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives.

A bill providing economic assistance to Ukraine and imposing sanctions over Russia's seizure of Crimea - and including the IMF reforms - cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday by a 78-17 vote, as backers hoped to win passage of the legislation later this week.

But the Republican-controlled House is considering a version of the legislation without the IMF provisions, and Republican congressional leaders insisted that they did not want them included in the bill.

Some Democrats joined them in saying they wanted fast action on a Ukraine aid package, and could leave out the IMF provisions if including them would delay passage.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said on Tuesday the IMF provision must be removed for the bill to become law.

"This simply cannot be a take-it-or-leave-it situation. That's just nonsensical," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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