Updated 2:40 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday that Democrats have agreed to nix the International Monetary Fund provision in a Ukraine aid package, in what amounts to a victory for House Republican leaders and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and a defeat for the White House.
The Nevada Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he would like to move the bill quickly — perhaps today.
Earlier, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., conceded that removing the IMF provisions was the likely outcome.
“The House Republican leadership is intransigent about IMF, despite the fact, that IMF, I think, is very important,” Menendez said Tuesday. “And if that’s the case, and there is no pathway forward, then you know we may very well strip it out.”
Ranking member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the Ukraine measure could pass the Senate Tuesday afternoon. Corker had called the likelihood of stripping the IMF language “very high.” Corker supports the IMF policy overhaul itself, which the White House has said would free up billions that could be lent to Ukraine.
Reid’s move came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned the bill could not become law in its current form . He urged Reid to allow amendments to the measure, including a GOP proposal to strike the IMF provision.
“He’s going to do that,” Sen. John McCain said of Reid weighing the possibility, adding that he supports nixing the IMF provision.
“I think it’s very important that we do that because the transcendent issue is sending a signal that we are going to help Ukraine as quickly as possible,” he said. “There are some other things that some of us want, thing like [more exports of] natural gas. … I’m all for those, but we’ve got to get this done.”
McCain had railed against his fellow Republicans a few weeks ago for slow-walking the bill over the IMF provision, saying they shouldn’t call themselves “Reagan Republicans.”
Niels Lesniewski and Alan K. Ota contributed to this report.