Senate Drops IMF Provisions from Ukraine Aid Bill
The Senate will end the deadlock on aid for Ukraine by stripping out provisions reforming the International Monetary Foundation (IMF), which some Republicans opposed. Although both parties have agreed that the United States should provide assistance to Ukraine, they were divided on the IMF provisions. Some Republicans opposed the provisions because of the financial implications the changes would have for Americans and because they were concerned they would diminish the country’s power in the organization. “Making the shift now, opponents argue, also would marginally increase Russia’s voting power over the fund’s finances” the Associated Press reported. Republicans offered accepting the IMF reforms in exchange for a change in IRS policy on donations to politically oriented non-profits. Instead, the Democrats opted to strike the IMF provisions, which the House would have rejected.
Although the Democrats desired to pass the IMF reforms, many thought that it was more important to provide Ukraine aid expeditiously. For instance, Secretary of State John Kerry recently said in one House hearing, “I want both, and I want them both now…. But if I can’t have one, we have got to have aid; we’ve just got to get the aid immediately. We can’t be toying around here at a critical moment for Ukraine.” On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he would forgo those reforms at this point, but would pursue them in the future.
Immigration Reform: What’s a Discharge Petition?
The Democrats want to pass immigration reform, and they want to do it now. The Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill, but unfortunately for the Democrats, they don’t have the House. Whatever shall they do? At this point, the House Republican leadership does not look like they will advance an immigration reform bill, so that leaves the Democrats in a tight spot. They can however, try one tactic: a discharge petition. A discharge petition is a request submitted to the Clerk of the House that a committee be relieved of its duties of considering a bill—in reality, the committee is usually not working on it in earnest—so that the legislation may be debated on the Floor. A simple majority suffices for a petition to succeed, but since it typically requires some Members of the majority to work with the minority, they generally do not pass. At the same time, those who support the petitions do not necessarily expect them to succeed; rather, they realize that a discharge petition may pressure the House leadership into bringing a bill to the Floor. National Journal is reporting that the Democrats will file a discharge petition on immigration reform today.
Is Nate Silver Right?
From now until Election Day, the most regular political story will be whether the Republicans will win the Senate. A number of analysts have suggested the odds are in their favor, and the most notable of these is Nate Silver, who has been lauded for his remarkably accurate predictions of the 2008 and 2012 Presidential and Senatorial races. Silver’s most recent assessment of the Senate races is particularly vexing for Democrats, prompting a number to dismiss it. Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg View comments on the state of the Senate races in light of Silver’s prediction. Silver’s prediction is corroborated by a number of others, and “2014 is shaping up as a somewhat weak year for Democrats overall”, he writes.
And for our latest post: More Nuclear-Option Fallout: Senate Blocks Presidential Appointment