In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took aim at Republicans and the Koch Brothers, for which he blamed for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimea.
REID: The first item the Senate must consider in this new work period is a bipartisan package of aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia for their untoward actions against their neighbor. As we prepare to debate this measure, I would remind all Senators that it is customary to show respect for the President and his office whenever he travels abroad. That has been the custom in the United States Senate regardless of who is in office.
As we begin debate on this aid and sanctions package, I also hope that Republicans who stopped action on this legislation prior to the break have considered how their obstruction affects United States’ national security as well as the people of Ukraine. Since a few Republicans blocked these important sanctions last work period, Russian lawmakers voted to annex Crimea and Russian forces have taken over Ukrainian military bases. It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice. When a few extremist Republicans blocked action on this robust bill reported with strong, bipartisan support by the Foreign Relations Committee, it sent a dangerous message to Russian leaders.
I am pleased that, in the face of Republicans obstruction, President Obama moved forward with additional sanctions. The President is working closely with our European allies to impose the most effective sanctions possible.
In light of such clear-cut Russian aggression against Ukraine, it’s difficult to believe Republicans blocked this package at all. But it’s almost unimaginable why they blocked it – to protect the anonymity of their own big-money donors. A few radical Republicans delayed this aid package by an entire week in order to protect the Koch brothers and billionaires like them. It’s hard to believe. But that’s the truth.
Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package in order to protect the ability of the Koch brothers and other GOP donors to hide behind shadowy front groups – groups that spend millions on misleading, political attack ads. Republicans objected to moving forward with this aid package unless Democrats agreed to allow the Kochs and billionaires like them to continue to anonymously spend millions trying to buy America’s democracy. It’s hard to believe. But that’s the truth.
I applaud the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee as well as the senior Senator from Arizona for their impassioned defense of this bill prior to the break. They joined Democrats in defending bipartisan sanctions and the role of the International Monetary Fund in stabilizing Ukraine’s economy and keeping Ukraine free. The measure before this body includes vital loan guarantees, sanctions, IMF funding and security assistance.
And I am grateful to have the support of these reasonable Republicans as we move this aid package forward this evening. I am confident this legislation will receive the strong, bipartisan support that it deserves.