News

Congress steps into action on Ukraine

Congress steps into action on Ukraine

UKRAINE: 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. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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 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)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Collins, Bellows Square Off in 2nd Debate

GENERIC VOTE

BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows are squaring off in another debate.

in Local

Court: Maine Agency Can Campaign Against Bear Vote

BEAR-LARGE

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A Portland judge says the state's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife can use its resources to campaign against a statewide referendum to ban certain bear-hunting tactics.

in Local

30 Maine Guard Members Home from Middle East

GENERIC NATIONAL GUARD

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ About 30 members of the Maine National Guard are home from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

in Local

Police Waiting on Autopsy in Lewiston Baby Death

Newsradio WGAN

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) _ Maine's state Medical Examiner's Office is still preparing an autopsy report for a baby found unresponsive in a Lewiston bathtub.

in Local

Maine’s High Court Allows Grand Falls Wind Farm

GENERIC WIND FARM

GRAND FALLS TOWNSHIP, Maine (AP) _ Maine's highest court is upholding a state Board of Environmental Protection decision to give a developer the go-ahead to build a wind farm on Passadumkeag Ridge in Grand Falls Township.