House Backs Obama's Request To Back Loans For Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine is galvanizing unusually swift bipartisan action on Capitol Hill. The GOP-led House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to authorize a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. European countries are offering financial support to help the new government in Ukraine distance itself from Russian control. And American funds are on the way with swift bipartisan action in Congress. The GOP-led House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to authorize a $1 billion loan guaranty for Ukraine at the request of President Obama. NPR's David Welna has this story.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The loan guaranty simply authorizes the State Department to use funds it already has to back loans for Ukraine. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said approving it sends a clear message.

REPRESENTATIVE HAL ROGERS: It would show that as a nation we will step up to help the people of Ukraine, not only with our words but with our deeds.

WELNA: Twenty-three Republicans opposed the measure. Although Colorado's Doug Lamborn voted for it, he chided the president.

REPRESENTATIVE DOUG LAMBORN: Unfortunately, President Obama's foreign policy of leading from behind is a failure.

WELNA: Moments later at the White House, President Obama announced sanctions and travel restrictions for those he said had violated Ukraine's sovereignty and integrity.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea.

WELNA: Obama's move won praise from House Speaker John Boehner.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: It's a welcome first step but remain committed to working with the administration to give President Obama as many tools as needed to put President Putin in check and prevent Russia from infringing on the sovereignty of any of its neighbors.

WELNA: Senate action on the loan guaranty package is expected next week. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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