A U.S. aid package to Ukraine passed a procedural vote in the Senate on Monday, moving Congress closer to its goal of lending economic support to the Eastern European country following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
The Senate version of the aid package provides $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and penalizes some officials in both Ukraine and Russia responsible for the incursion. Final passage of the bill in the Senate is expected later this week.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have agreed on the importance of supporting Ukraine, but some Republicans have rejected reforms to the International Monetary Fund that were included in the Senate deal. Conservatives complain the provision, which would allow developing countries like Ukraine borrow more money, is superfluous and would only increase the United States' financial commitment to the IMF.
The GOP led House of Representatives has passed an aid package without the IMF provisions, and Republican objection to the measure has dampened the prospects that a final deal could happen quickly.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., lashed out at Republicans who had held up a vote before the Senate's recess last week.
"As we begin debate on this aid and sanctions package, I also hope that the Republicans [who] stopped action on this legislation prior to the break have considered how their obstruction affects our great country's national security, as well as the people in Ukraine who are struggling so very, very much," Reid said Monday.
A handful of hawkish Republicans like Arizona Sen. John McCain had differed sharply with their fellow Republicans over the impasse.
"Don’t call yourself Reagan Republicans,” McCain said before the recess. “Ronald Reagan would never, would never let this kind of aggression go unresponded to by the American people.”
On the Senate floor Monday, McCain warned that any further delays to the package could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin to send forces to other neighboring countries.