Harry Reid accused the GOP of helping Russia annex Crimea by blocking an aid and sanctions package to Ukraine:
As we begin debate on this aid and sanctions package, I also hope that the Republicans, who’ve stopped action on this legislation prior to the break, have considered how their obstruction affects our great country’s national security as well as the people of Ukraine who are struggling so very, very much.
Since this was blocked by some Republicans, these important sanctions have not taken place. Russian lawmakers voted to annex crimea and Russian forces have taken over, in many instances by force, military bases in crimea. It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to this Russian aggression with a strong unified voice, which we did not do.
When a few extreme Republicans blocked action on this robust bill, which was reported out of the foreign relations committee with a strong bipartisan vote, and then it comes to the senate floor, it sends a very weak message to the Russians that we’ll work on this later. We don’t have to do it now. In spite of what some Republicans did which their obstruction, President Obama moved forward with additional sanctions, and i’m glad that he did. The president is working closely with our European allies to impose the most effective sanctions possible. That’s in effect what he is working on today.
First, it’s absurd to think that anything we have on the table now would have stopped Russia from annexing Crimea. Secondly, the Senate bill was very different from the House bill, meaning nothing would have passed before the recess anyhow.
But what is odd is that Reid blames the Republican block on Republicans trying to protect the Koch Brothers, trying to stop the new IRS rule that would make the targeting of Tea Party groups ‘legal’:
In light of such clear-cut aggression against Ukraine which continued as late as yesterday, it’s difficult to believe Republicans blocked the package at all, but they did. It’s almost unimaginable why, why they did this. They blocked aid to Ukraine in order to protect the anonymity of their big-time donors. They said we will give the president the tools he needs to help the beleaguered people of Ukraine but only if, only if 501–4-c work by the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department is stopped. That’s pretty absurd but that’s the truth. It’s all over the news today.
So Republicans delayed this aid package for ten days in order to protect the Koch brothers and billionaires just like them. Mr. president, it’s very hard to believe, but it’s true. Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package in order to protect the ability of the Koch brothers and other GOP donors who hide behind shadowy front groups, groups that spent millions on misleading political attack ads. This is the reason for holding up something that is so important to 46 million Ukrainians and important to our country?
That would have been a great reason to block the legislation, but that’s not why they blocked it. Ted Cruz has a letter on his website, signed by himself, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Mike Enzi, and Pat Roberts that outlines why they blocked the aid package. Basically, it included language that would double the contribution of the US to the IMF fund and would lessen America’s influence over how that money is spent:
As we understand it, this reform would double the funds the IMF can loan, involving a doubling of the United States’ contribution from its current level of $63 billion, while simultaneously reducing U.S. influence over how these funds are directed—and increasing that of Russia. Regardless of the magnitude of this change, this idea is antithetical to the driving purpose of the underlying legislation.
I read the entire letter (all 5 paragraphs) and it says nothing about the IRS. This is just another example of Harry Reid using his platform to attack the Koch brothers.
You can read Cruz’s letter here.