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Democrats signal retreat on IMF provisions

Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev)
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, aides to Senate Democrats said Tuesday they may chop international monetary fund provisions that they added to a bill that provides aid to Ukraine and authorizes sweeping sanctions against Russia.

If true, the move represents a retreat by Democrats who inserted the provisions knowing full well that the Republican House expected a clean bill to deal with Russia after that country seized Crimea from Ukraine.The Obama administration had argued for the IMF reforms (provisions).

Democrats claim the provisions are needed for congressional legislation in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Obama’s administration has been criticized for its delayed response to Russia's occupation of Crimea, which was a part of Ukraine prior to the recent Russian invasion. Democrats, especially the administration, risk further criticism over their slow response by by going to war with Republicans over IMF lending provisions that they added to the bill.

While lawmakers on both sides are invested in a timely and effective response to the Crimea invasion, Democrats have the most to lose since they hold the White House and Senate. President Obama's poll numbers have settled in the low 40s while occasionally dipping into the high 30s during his second term. The administration’s foreign policy record has been called into question repeatedly for its political responses in Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Israel and other hot-spots around the globe.

Democrats hope that by cutting the provisions out of the bill that sanctions Russia for its aggression against Ukraine they can save face during an election year that has them fighting to maintain control of the Senate.

For their part, Republicans say IMF reform can wait and that the administration and Democrats should be focused on passing an aggressive sanctions package to convince Russia that any further encroachment against Ukraine would not be in its best interest.

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