Russia annexed Crimea this week, and the U.S. government is working on issuing a response to its old foe’s aggression. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has urged his Chamber’s committees to find ways to punish Russia for its interference in Ukraine. He suggested that the U.S. might provide military assistance to Ukraine, export more natural gas to the country, and urge other members of the G-8 to expel Russia. America must “put long-term pressure on their economy”, Cantor wrote in an email. Although the House Majority Leader is gung-ho about punishing Putin, there are some snags holding up legislation to provide aid to Ukraine. The House already passed a bill providing loan guarantees, and the Senate is cooking up one that includes the same, plus initiates sanctions. That bill, however, is being held up because it includes reforms to the International Monetary Foundation, which some Republicans oppose. Republican have offered to accept those provisions in exchange for changes to IRS rule regarding political donations, but the Democrats refuse to accept the deal. Despite the rift, some are optimistic that the Senate will pass a bill, even with IMF reforms are attached to it.

Politico: Eric Cantor Calls on Committees to Punish Russia

National Journal: Cantor Wants to Punish Putin

Politico: Congress Pokes Along on Ukraine Aid

The Republicans should do pretty well in the upcoming midterm elections, and the party might even be able to capture the Senate. One could argue that that would not do a whole lot to help their cause, since the President would still be a Democrat and can veto legislation and use any number of Executive actions to implement his agenda. National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke, however, argues that a Republican takeover would greatly help the party, as it did for Democrats when they won the 2006 midterm elections. Having both Chambers of Congress would allow them to pass popular laws that the President opposes, forcing him either sign or veto them. For instance, the Congress could not repeal Obamacare in its entirety, but it could hack away at a number of unpopular provisions, like the individual mandate, requiring the President either to fold or stand by them.

National Review: Why Taking Over the Senate Would Do Republicans a Lot of Good

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Chair of the House Republican Conference, delivered the official Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address this year, the first time many Americans would become acquainted with her. “How does a Representative from Washington state introduce herself to the country?” was the big question facing her and her staff. Instead of focusing on her power or accomplishments in DC, she opted to tell the public about her background and family life. Speaker John Boehner had great advice. According to Emma Dumain of Roll Call, “[Boehner] basically said, ‘Just be yourself,’” [McMorris Rodgers] recalled. “He said, ‘It doesn’t have to be a long speech and don’t over think it.’ That was pretty much it.”

Roll Call: When the Speaker Calls: How McMorris Rodgers Was Picked for SOTU Response

And for our latest post: More Nuclear-Option Fallout: Senate Blocks Presidential Appointment