Ukraine Aid Bills
Both Chambers of the U.S. Congress passed bills on Thursday to support Ukraine, which has been riven by civil unrest and which lost its territory of Crimea to Russia. The Senate voted vocally, but the House took a roll call vote, with a final tally of 399-19. Since the bills are different, the House reported will pass the Senate version today. It would then go to President Barack Obama for his signature. There has been general bipartisan agreement over the need to offer aid to Ukraine, but the House and Senate initially differed on whether the bill should include provisions to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Democrats supported the provisions, but many Republicans balked at them. The final bills contained sanctions to be imposed upon Russia. They also offered to back Ukraine for up to $1 billion if the country defaults on its debts.
The Senate voted to move its unemployment benefits bill along, which will allow the Chamber to vote and presumably pass it next week. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats in their efforts to advance the bill in a 65-35 vote. These included Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the primary architects of the bill, and moderate Senators like Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Republicans are expected to request that amendments be considered on the Floor of the Senate, and if they are not granted the opportunity to do so, fewer GOP Senators will probably vote for the bill. House Republicans are not inclined to consider the bill, since they say it is not sufficiently paid for. “The higher the vote count on the final bill, the more pressure it will put on House Republicans to take up the Senate measure, supporters say,” writes Sarah Mimms in National Journal.
Representative Mike Rogers to Retire
Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Chairman on the House Intelligence Committee, announced that he would retire at the end of this Congress. He said that he believes in the traditional notion of the Congress as a “citizen legislature” where Members spend a few years serving and then move on. He has been in office since 2000, and took control of the Intelligence Committee in 2011. He plans on becoming a talk radio host for Cumulus after he retires.
Although Representative Rogers is retiring, it is not immediately clear who will head the Intelligence Committee in the next Congress. The next most senior Member on the Committee is Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas, but he is also in the running to take over the Armed Services Committee. Following him is Representative Jeff Miller of Florida. However, seniority is only one factor among many in the selection of committee chairmen.
And for our latest post: More Nuclear-Option Fallout: Senate Blocks Presidential Appointment