'We must have IMF reform, we must have the quota,' Kerry said. | GettyClose
Secretary of State John Kerry urged Congress to approve reforms to the International Monetary Fund that the administration says is a critical component of aid to Ukraine but is running into opposition from some Republicans.
“We must have IMF reform, we must have the quota,” Kerry told a Senate appropriations subcommittee Thursday. “It would be a terrible message to Ukraine for everybody to be standing up talking, appropriately, about what’s at stake and not to be able to follow through.”Continue Reading
A partisan divide over changes to the IMF is slowing down efforts on Capitol Hill to provide assistance to Ukraine after the recent Russian incursion.
A bill heading to the Senate floor gives congressional approval to a 2010 IMF decision that reconfigures the amount of money the United States and other countries contribute to the organization. But many Republicans worry the move could expose taxpayers to risk and say it’s unrelated to the crisis in Ukraine. The GOP-controlled House passed a Ukraine measure last week that didn’t include the IMF provision.
“The IMF money has nothing to do with Ukraine,” Speaker John Boehner said Thursday. “I understand the administration wants the IMF money but it has nothing at all to do with Ukraine. So let’s just understand what the facts are here.”
The Ohio Republican urged the Senate to swiftly pass the House legislation before next week’s recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already rejected that option.
Kerry, who also pressed House lawmakers on the IMF issue Wednesday, noted that the U.S. is the only member of the organization that hasn’t approved the reforms. The implications of that, he said, are “just enormous.”
“Our leadership in this is now in doubt,” Kerry told senators. “We’re inadvertently hurting ourselves by sending a message that we’re not prepared to lead.”
Some congressional Republicans are concerned that taxpayer dollars could be at a greater risk under the changes, however. Some Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tried to get rid of the provision during a Wednesday markup, but were defeated by Democrats and a few Republicans.
Kerry is headed to London Friday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The secretary of state told senators Thursday morning that he had spoken briefly with Lavrov, who was meeting in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He also warned that while Russia did not currently have the capacity to take over all of Ukraine, “that could change very quickly.”
As voters in Crimea faces a March 16 referendum on ratifying a decision to leave Ukraine and join Russia, Kerry warned of a “very serious series of steps” on Monday both in Europe and in the United States regarding “options available to us” if there is no progress on a resolution by the vote.
“Our hope is to have Russia join in respecting international law,” Kerry said. “There is no justification, no legality to this referendum that is taking place.”
Still, Kerry acknowledged that there was little doubt over what the results of the referendum will be. The Crimean parliament voted earlier this month 78-0 to join Russia.
Jake Sherman contributed to this report.