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With $1B In Aid For Ukraine, Congress Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. The House and the Senate both voted overwhelmingly today for aid to Ukraine and sanctions for Russia's annexation of Crimea. The bipartisan response to the crisis follows weeks of partisan wrangling. Differences between the two bills still have to be ironed out. NPR's David Welna is at the Capitol.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Shortly before the House voted 399 to 19 to pass its Ukraine aid and sanctions bill, GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned colleagues the eyes of the world were on them.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Adversaries and allies around the world are watching to see how we respond to this outrageous provocation to see whether we mean it when we say Putin's actions are unacceptable.

WELNA: And Steny Hoyer, the chamber's number two Democrat, portrayed the bill promising a billion dollars in loan guarantees and diplomatic and economic sanctions for Russia as another off-ramp for that nation's leaders to take.

REPRESENTATIVE STENY HOYER: What it offers President Putin and his associates is an opportunity to end their misguided, unjustified and illegal incursion into Ukraine's internal affairs.

WELNA: Not everyone agreed.

REPRESENTATIVE DANA ROHRABACHER: I see this legislation as a bipartisan green light to reigniting the Cold War.

WELNA: California's Dana Rohrabacher was one of the 17 Republicans who opposed the bill.

ROHRABACHER: Putin is a nationalist who loves his country and he's looking out for the national interest of his country.

WELNA: A fellow California Republican, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce, took issue with Rohrabacher.

REPRESENTATIVE ED ROYCE: This is not a new Cold War. President Reagan ended the Cold War.

WELNA: Royce said the bill which he co-sponsored sent a strong signal to Russia.

ROYCE: If they choose to go even further, then we and our allies will ratchet up the sanctions pressure.

WELNA: But Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly demanded a tougher response now.

REPRESENTATIVE GERRY CONNOLLY: We need to stop talking about the he-better-not-go-further argument. I'm stuck at Crimea and I hope my colleagues are, too.

WELNA: The Senate's Ukraine bill passed by voice vote. Arizona Republican John McCain said it should've had military assistance for Ukraine and scoffed at those who say that would be a provocation.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: What does it take to be further - the next time that we provoke Vladimir Putin, is it going to be Alaska?

WELNA: And President Obama got a scolding from Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

SENATOR BOB CORKER: I do think the president's comments over the last week or several days in Europe have seemed cautious, have seemed timid. And what I hope the administration will do very, very soon is to turn the volume up dramatically.

WELNA: Despite the Cold War rhetoric, nobody suggested sending in U.S. troops. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.