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Ukraine loan package clears Senate hurdle

WASHINGTON – Legislation to approve $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and impose sanctions against Russia cleared a key Senate hurdle Monday, but Congress remained locked in a partisan fight over the details of the package.

By a vote of 78-17, the measure advanced after overcoming the threat of a GOP filibuster and objections from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other tea party-aligned conservatives.

But the Senate package still faces opposition in the House, where Republicans – with backing from key Democrats – are crafting their own version.

The full Senate is expected to pass its bill later in the week.

Lawmakers, who returned Monday from a weeklong recess, have been struggling to set aside partisan squabbles to show a unified front following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Republicans and Democrats largely agree with President Barack Obama’s broad goals of providing Ukraine up to $1 billion in loan guarantees and penalizing the Russians through sanctions on individuals close to Putin. A stand-alone loan package has already been approved by the House.

Key to the objections from Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and others is a provision in the Senate version sought by the White House to expand the loan-making authority of the International Monetary Fund.



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