Posts Tagged Republicans

American Flag Raised Over Embassy in Cuba

The U.S. flag flies at the U.S. embassy in HavanaSecretary of State John Kerry went to Cuba on Friday and raised the American flag above the U.S. Embassy for the first time in 54 years.

“Thank you for joining us at this truly historic moment as we prepare to raise the flag … symbolizing the restoration of diplomatic relations after 54 years,” Kerry said at the ceremony, addressing the crowd in both English and Spanish.

Kerry’s visit marks the symbolic end of one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. But signs of mistrust linger, and beyond the pomp and circumstance lies a long road back from more than half a century of diplomatic animosity.

On Thursday, Cuban state media put out an article in the name of Fidel Castro, writing on the occasion of his 89th birthday, in which he made no reference to the historic resumption of U.S.-Cuba relations but instead waxed on about the damage the American embargo has caused Cuba and the anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on Japan.

The rhetoric from the leader of the Cuban revolution, and the face of anti-U.S. resistance, is not unexpected. But it underscores the long-standing tensions at play as Washington and Havana work to thaw the decadeslong chill in relations.

Even Kerry’s brief visit reflects the complexities of opening a new chapter of engagement with the Cuban government.

He was accompanied by a number of U.S. lawmakers who had advocated normalizing diplomatic and economic relations with the island. Several Cuban-Americans also are part of the delegation.

But anti-Castro dissidents weren’t at the U.S. Embassy ceremony marking the restoration of ties. Kerry met with the dissidents and human rights activists at another flag-raising, this one closed to press at the residence of the U.S. chief of mission, along with a broad cross section of Cuban entrepreneurs, journalists and artists.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, blasted the decision in a foreign policy speech delivered in New York Friday morning.

“As a symbol of just how backward this policy shift has turned out to be, no Cuban dissidents have been invited to today’s official flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Havana,” Rubio said. “Cuba’s dissidents have fought for decades for the very Democratic principles President Obama claims to be advancing through these concessions. Their exclusion from this event has ensured it will be little more than a propaganda rally for the Castro regime.”

Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and also the son of Cuban immigrants, said it was “shameful” that Cuba could bar dissidents from the ceremony and said the U.S. flag should not fly in a country that does not value freedom.

“A flag representing freedom and liberty will rise today in a country ruled by a repressive regime that denies its people democracy and basic human rights. This is the embodiment of a wrongheaded policy that rewards the Castro regime’s brutality at the expense of the Cuban people’s right to freedom of expression and independence,” Menendez said in a statement.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the opening of the embassy a “sad day” in an interview Friday with CNN en Espanol.

“It’s a sad day for me because we did not get anything, no freedom, the dissidents were not invited, not even a change in the regime, they have the economic control. The American flag up but no changes to the Cuban people, it’s a sad day for me,” Bush said, according to a CNN translation.

When Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez visited Washington to reopen the Cuban embassy, he underscored the differences that remain. Standing next to Kerry at the State Department last month, Rodriguez made clear the full normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba would be impossible as long as the blockade remains.

President Barack Obama has eased some travel and business restrictions, but only Congress can lift the 53-year-old embargo, something that is unlikely to happen with Republicans controlling both chambers through the end of his term.

Senior administration officials said they are examining what more the President can do to support the Cuban people and Cuban entrepreneurs but said he would be cautious about going too far, too fast.

The officials said that the President’s calculus in carving out certain sectors health, agriculture, telecom and information, was that they could be justified within the President’s executive authority as humanitarian in nature and opening Cuba to the outside world.

But Obama will not do an end run around Congress and gut the embargo, they said, something Republican lawmakers opposed to the new policy have accused him of.

“These are areas we think can help bring about improvements in the lives of average Cubans even if they bring some benefit to a government we disagree with,” one senior official said. “We are making exceptions to the embargo but still keeping the premise of it.

 

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Paul Seizes Senate Floor To Deliver Over Ten Hour Filibuster Against Patriot Act

Filibuster PaulRepublican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul Seized the Senate floor Wednesday to deliver an almost 11 hour-long protest against renewal of the Patriot Act, calling the post-Sept. 11 law government intrusion on Americans’ privacy.

Congress faces a June 1 deadline for the law’s expiration, and Paul’s speech underscored the deep divisions over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, which was revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer,” the Kentucky senator said at 1:18 p.m. EDT when he took to the Senate floor. “That time is now, and I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”

He finished at 11:49 p.m., having not sat for more than 10 hours.

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to end the bulk collection and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate will act on the issue before beginning a Memorial Day recess scheduled for week’s end.

But McConnell, along with presidential hopefuls Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., favors extending the law and final congressional approval of the bill before the deadline is no certainty.

Paul plunged into a lengthy speech declaring the Patriot Act unconstitutional and opposing renewal of the program. With a hefty binder at his desk, he spelled out his objections, occasionally allowing Republican and Democratic senators to pose questions and getting support from a handful of House members seated at the back of the chamber.

“I don’t think we’re any safer looking at every American’s records,” Paul said.

Paul’s campaign sent out a fundraising appeal while his longstanding opposition to bulk collection, a pillar of his campaign, stirred social media.

Throughout the night, several Democratic senators and a few Republicans gave his voice occasional breaks by speaking several minutes to ostensibly ask him questions. Paul kept control by yielding for questions without “yielding the floor,” and by not sitting.

The surveillance issue has divided Republicans and Democrats, cutting across party lines and pitting civil libertarians concerned about privacy against more hawkish lawmakers fearful about losing tools to combat terrorism.

As Paul made his case, a Justice Department memo circulated on Capitol Hill warning lawmakers that the NSA will have to begin winding down its bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the end of the week if Congress fails to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

“After May 22, 2015, the National Security Agency will need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata program in anticipation of a possible sunset in order to ensure that it does not engage in any unauthorized collection or use of the metadata,” the department said.

If Congress fails to act, several key provisions of the law would expire, including the bulk collection; a provision allowing so-called roving wiretaps, which the FBI uses for criminals who frequently switch cellphones; and a third that makes it easier to obtain a warrant to target a “lone wolf” terror suspect who has no provable links to a terrorist organization.

Last week, the House backed the USA Freedom Act, which would replace bulk collection with a system to search the data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis. The vote was 338-88, and House Republican and Democratic leaders have insisted the Senate act on their bill.

But McConnell and several other top Republicans prefer to simply reauthorize the post-Sept. 11 law. McConnell has agreed to allow a vote on the House bill, but has indicated there may not be enough votes to pass it in the Senate.

The Justice Department also said that if Congress allows the law to expire and then passes legislation to reauthorize it when lawmakers return to Washington the week of June 1, it would “be effective in making the authorities operative again, but may expose the government to some litigation risk in the event of legal challenge.”

The White House backs the House bill and has pressed for the Senate to approve the legislation and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The House bill is the result of outrage among Republicans and Democrats after Snowden’s revelations about the NSA program.

Although Paul called his action a filibuster, it technically fell short of Senate rules since the bill the Senate was considering was trade, not the Patriot Act.

 

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Hillary’s Poll Numbers Holding Strong in New Hampshire

Despite a storm of recent controversies, Hillary Clinton’s popularity is proving durable among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first presidential primary election in early 2016.

Nearly nine of 10 Granite State Democrats who are likely to vote in the primary say they had either a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of Clinton, according to a new Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll. The number, 86 percent, is virtually unchanged from her 88 percent favorability rating among Democrats last November and an 89 percent rating in February.

She also fares about as well as her husband, the 42nd president and a popular figure in U.S. politics, on a host of qualities, the poll found.

 

 

“She’s the best of what I’ve seen so far,” said poll respondent Bruce Bonnette, a 79-year-old retiree from Northfield, N.H. “And she’s got Bill to back her up.”

There are also signs that Clinton shouldn’t take her support for granted, particularly among the state’s independent voters. Even among Democrats, there is considerable skepticism about her truth-telling.

“I’m not that happy about the private e-mail server,” said Walter Hamilton, a 64-year-old Democrat and retired civil servant from Portsmouth, N.H., referring to Clinton’s use of non-official e-mail while she served as secretary of state. He also expressed concerns about allegations of impropriety over foreign donations made to the Clinton Foundation during that same time.

But one thing stands out for Hamilton: “She’s the only one that can beat the Republicans, and my guess is that most Democrats feel the same way.”

Among likely general-election voters, Clinton is less popular. Nearly half of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of her, and her favorable rating has dropped 8 percentage points since February to 46 percent.

Still, only one politician in the survey had a higher favorability rating among general-election voters: Bill Clinton, at 53 percent.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, both Clintons and President Barack Obama are deeply popular, with more than 85 percent expressing either “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinions of them.

By contrast, independent Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist from neighboring Vermont who announced his candidacy for the nomination last week, has a 56 percent favorable rating among likely Democratic primary voters. Another potential Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, had a 25 percent favorable rating, a likely reflection of poor name recognition.

Yet the poll also suggests that voters believe the former first lady has a clear deficit in some of the qualities they consider most important in choosing a president.

Nearly six out of 10 likely general-election voters said neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton can be trusted to tell the truth. Nearly half, 47 percent, said neither Clinton shares their values. They rated somewhat better on questions about having a vision for the future and perceptions that they care about “people like you.”

 

 While feeding a narrative about her truthfulness, criticism over Clinton’s handling of foreign donations to her family foundation has not created the firestorm that Republicans might have foreseen.

A solid majority, 60 percent, of likely general-election voters said they were either unsure about the allegations or believed they were just another example of overblown accusations by Republicans against the Clintons.

Others think the accustions have merit. Forty percent of those polled said they believed foreign governments and companies that donated to the Clinton Foundation or paid for Bill Clinton’s speaking fees were probably looking for favors and some of them got what they wanted.

 

Thomas Keach, a 50-year-old independent who said he voted for Obama in 2012, said Clinton’s foreign connections, along with the e-mail controversy, are evidence that she is “part of the old-school politics” in Washington.

“They don’t address real problems that people like I face every day,” said Keach, who now favors Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive.

Women voters are especially likely to support Hillary Clinton. Fifty-six percent of women who are likely to vote in the general election expressed a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of her, compared to 37 percent of men.

“I’m so glad she’s giving it a second shot,” said Spickler. “I felt strongly in 2008 that it was such a wonderful thing to see a woman as a serious candidate in my lifetime. Now, I think it’s more that I think she’s the best-qualified Democrat.”

But she faces a challenge among independent voters who can cast their ballots in either party’s primary. Just 41 percent of independents rate Clinton favorably, compared to 51 percent who expressed positive opinions of Bill Clinton.

Even so, she has a higher favorability rating among independents than many likely Republican presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush.

The poll, conducted May 2-6 by Washington-based Purple Insights, included 500 general-election voters as well as oversamples to include 400 Republican primary voters and 400 Democratic primary voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points on general-election questions and plus or minus 4.9 percentage points on primary questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Original Source: Bloomberg Politics

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Boehner Tells Caucus That He Intends To File Immigration Lawsuit

John BoehnerHouse Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday plans to pursue legal action against the Obama administration in order to challenge President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Boehner told Republican House members at Tuesday morning’s meeting he plans to take steps to file a lawsuit.

“We are finalizing a plan to authorize litigation on this issue, one we believe gives us the best chance of success,” Boehner said, according to a source in the room.

This means the House would have to take up a resolution to authorize a lawsuit, as it did on Obamacare last year.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman called the decision “an embarrassing admission of failure” for not passing immigration legislation.

“Republicans’ radical anti-immigrant legislation is dead on arrival. Once again, House Republicans are crawling to the courts to relieve them of their responsibility to govern,” Drew Hammill said in a written statement.

The move comes as House Republican leaders are struggling to round up support for a border security bill they had planned to vote on this week. The blizzard affecting the East coast postponed the vote, but some conservatives who opposed the bill said it didn’t have the support needed to pass. Democrats are virtually united against the measure, so GOP leaders needed to lock in enough votes from their own members, and for now have put off any vote on that proposal.

Some House GOP members determined to block funding for the president’s executive action view the border measure as an effort by leaders to placate conservatives who want to push for a full fight to deny money to the Administration.

“We’re tired of trying to be too cute by a half. You know, playing these bait and switch moves and sending something over there [to the Senate] and then conveniently trading it for allowing the president’s order to go through,” Arizona Republican Rep Matt Salmon told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate will take up the House-passed bill that strips funding for the president’s executive order. But multiple GOP aides acknowledge it’s not likely to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster. House and Senate Republican leaders insist they don’t want any sort of partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security due to the immigration battle.

Boehner, pressed for the next step on what he’ll do if the Senate rejects the House bill, said, “there’s no reason for me to speculate on what we will or won’t do.”

During Tuesday morning’s meeting closed door meeting the Speaker announced the initial steps on challenging the president in court. According to a House GOP leadership aide he told members he is drafting “a resolution authorizing the House to take a variety of legal actions” This could mean joining the states’ lawsuit on the President’s executive action or filing a separate lawsuit.

No decisions have been made on the specific legal action or argument the House GOP will use.

 

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Obama Aims To Stay Relevant With Sixth State of the Union Address

Obama SOTUWhen President Obama enters the House Chamber Tuesday night, he’ll be delivering his sixth State of the Union address, and also his ninth speech to a joint session of Congress.

Many mistakenly believe his first such speech, delivered on February 24, 2009, just over a month into his presidency, was a State of the Union address. It wasn’t. He spoke about conditions in the country that night, but above all else, his speech was intended not to be a general statement on the health of the country, but rather had a single purpose: to build confidence in his approach to slowing and reversing the recession.

“Tonight I want every American to know this,” he said, “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”

He next appeared before Congress on September 9th of that same year, to clarify the elements of the health-care reform plan he wanted. He tried to be conciliatory and reach out to Republicans and Democrats alike. But he was adamant about ending the debate on the issue and getting legislation enacted.

“The time for bickering is over,” he declared. “The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action.”

“Now is the time to deliver on health care, he said emphatically and repeated that sentence.”

That was the speech that will be remembered for a breach of protocol, when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, shouted “You lie” after Mr. Obama stated that his plan would not fund abortion nor provide coverage to illegal immigrants. Wilson was widely denounced, and he later apologized.

It was in that speech that the President also vowed that he would not sign a health care plan that adds so much as “a dime” to current or future deficits.

He delivered his first State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, a year and a week after taking office. It was only at the end of that 70-minute speech that he came to his main message:

“Let’s seize this moment to start anew,” he declared.

“We don’t quit,” he said of America. “I don’t quit,” he asserted for himself. He got to sign his health care bill into law less than two months later, on March 23, 2010.

Mr. Obama was invited to deliver his second State of the Union address on January 25, 2011. He used the speech to call for more U.S. innovation and competitiveness as a way to grow the economy, promote exports and create jobs. It was that night that many members of Congress arranged to sit next to members of the opposite political party, in a symbolic move toward bipartisanship. It didn’t last.

In between his second and third State of the Union speeches, President Obama returned to address Congress again on September 8, 2011, to further discuss ways to grow the economy and create jobs. His plan included a call for tax cuts and incentives, subsidies for infrastructure construction, and funding for teacher and first responder jobs.

Five months later, his third State of the Union was a reprise. He used that speech to unveil a blueprint for “An America Built to Last ” It, too, called for economic enhancement through growth of manufacturing, the energy sector, worker skills and American values.

He delivered his fourth State of the Union on February 12, 2013. It was on that day that North Korea conducted a nuclear test explosion. The president issued a statement at 1:50 a.m. denouncing the North Korean action as “highly provocative and a threat to U.S. national security.” His speech that night was a laundry list of proposals including immigration, gun control and a call to raise the national minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

His most recent appearance before a joint session was January 28, 2014, his fifth State of the Union address. He said it could be “a breakthrough year for America.”

“After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.”

But he said not much would be accomplished unless the “rancorous” arguments over the proper size and function of government were brought to an end. They were not.

So now, President Obama prepares to deliver his sixth State of the Union. For the first time, he faces a Congress in which both chambers have Republican majorities.

He has been previewing his proposals since the start of the year all designed to show he intends to press his agenda, despite a Congress in the control of the opposition.

He wants his speech to keep him relevant and engaged and avoid the appellation every president comes to detest in their final years: “lame duck.”

 

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A Federalist Today Presidential Straw Poll

Jeb bush

What insurgent can break the establishment winning streak?

 Those who are not ready for Jeb or Mitt (much less Hillary) are now officially on the clock–tasked with finding a credible conservative insurgent capable of going toe-to-toe with the Republican establishment’s favorite in the primary elections that begin fourteen months from now.

The clearest path to victory for the establishment, as they have publicly made clear, is to rally around one high profile candidate while conservative and libertarian-leaning Republicans divide themselves among a half dozen or more until the early primaries begin to cull the field. A divided right and a (more) united middle has carried the establishment to victory in every open primary since the contemporary system emerged (in 1988).

Jeb Bush’s exploratory committee announcement last week is a large step toward uniting the middle–either around Bush himself or, if he fails to gain traction, Mitt Romney, called in from political retirement as a management consultant Cincinnatus to save the day. For what? Beyond the benefits to properly-credentialed job seekers, we can expect another campaign for expert mastery of the economy, a 98-cents-on-the-Progressive-dollar budget, democratic self esteem-promoting missions abroad, and market-oriented but beltway-directed education (if Bush) or health care (if Romney) “reform.”

As Josh Kraushaar argued last week at the National Journal, such a program is unlikely to energize the Republican base. But the base won’t matter if the Republican establishment standard-bearer can win the early primaries and caucuses with 30-40% of the vote and build an air of inevitability around his nomination before the campaign hits the states where most of that base resides. Meanwhile, renewed rumblings about the end of the Ames, Iowa, straw poll (related to new Republican National Committee rules to discourage party-sponsored voting events prior to the official Iowa caucus) and plans to limit the number of pre-primary debates make the early unification of conservatives all the more unlikely.

Last week, we proposed calling a series of regional pre-primary caucuses featuring candidate debates and straw polls (sample below) that would openly, fairly, and naturally work to unite conservatives behind a single insurgent candidate several months before the primaries begin. The idiosyncrasies of the early-voting states would still favor the establishment candidate, but he’d have to get something close to a majority of the vote to defeat a conservative/libertarian insurgent who had established himself as the clear choice of the non-elite.

What sort of an insurgent could run this gauntlet and break the establishment winning streak? Being willing to take on the Republican branch of America’s ruling class would be a good start. But that could be the pathway for demagogues and attention-seekers as much as true republicans.

The test will be in the alternative he advocates. After eight years of President Obama, we expect the establishment candidate to talk about reform, but we hope an insurgent reformer would bend us toward more constitutional government, not merely more efficient government. A true reform candidate would be able to highlight the important difference between the American presidency as first conceived, and the celebrity, hegemonic, mind-everyone’s business executive that the position has become, to the discredit of both the office and the country.

How, then, do we know if we’ve found the genuine article? There is no better place to rediscover the true nature of a constitutional executive than Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist essays on the American presidency (numbers 67-77). There Hamilton describes:

President Obama’s greatest contribution to reviving the American republic has been his blatant disregard for this model–standing in such a stark contrast to the original that it has drawn our attention back to it.  He is not the first to have left the Founders’ republican ideal behind. But he has been the most audacious in trying to hammer the nails into its coffin.

He has usurped legislative authority time and again and then threatened to use his veto to prevent the reassertion of Congress’s constitutional powers. He has undermined our peace by suffering injury to American interests from one rogue state after another and exacerbating our political, economic, and racial divisions. He has expanded government power and bureaucratic discretion while leading an executive branch that views the defenders of self-government with suspicion and disdain.

There is enough low-hanging fruit here for any ambitious Republican. Criticizing President Obama on the 2016 campaign trail will be easy and, so long as his approval ratings remain low, politically cheap. But whatever measure of political success another not-Obama campaign might bring, it will take the persuasive presentation of a compelling alternative to begin the revitalization of our republic.

The ideal conservative running for President would, therefore, be one who understands that that which he is attempting to “conserve” is the Founders’ vision of republican executive authority, exceptional both in their day and ours. True republican reform would amount to a refinement of current executive practices that bring the office back into alignment with the original understanding of the American presidency. Perhaps most difficult of all, it would require the new president to foreswear many of the executive prerogatives asserted by President Obama, even, or especially, when they appear to be the only way to achieve his favored policy. When he takes the oath of office, he must “swear to his own hurt” (Psalm 15)  to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Who among the current Republican contenders is best positioned to make the case for this understanding of the American presidency and then live up to it in office? The combination of intellectual and moral virtues necessary to accomplish this is difficult to find. Add the administrative gifts necessary to govern well and the task becomes more difficult still. We hope that over the next year there will be a very robust and public debate centered on this question, despite the efforts of the GOP establishment. Let’s start today. Who do you think is best able to re-constitutionalize the presidency? Participate in our straw poll and add your comments below.

 

David Corbin is a Professor of Politics and Matthew Parks an Assistant Professor of Politics at The King’s College, New York City. They are co-authors of “Keeping Our Republic: Principles for a Political Reformation” (2011). You can follow their work on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Link: http://thefederalist.com/2014/12/22/a-federalist-today-presidential-straw-poll/

 

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U.S. Congress Move Closer to Imposing More Sanctions Against Russia

SanctionsRepublicans and Democrats spoke with one voice on Monday in pressing President Barack Obama to sign legislation that would slap new sanctions on Russia while providing weapons and other assistance to Ukraine.

The widely popular legislation cleared Congress late Saturday, but the White House has remained non-committal about whether Obama will sign it into law. Administration officials say the president is evaluating the measure, which would target Russia’s energy and defense industries.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a statement saying the bipartisan bill underscores Congress’ “strong moral commitment to the cause of the Ukrainian people” and he called on Obama to sign it immediately.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers “stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the Ukrainian government and its people against the aggression of Vladimir Putin who continues to upend the international order.”

The legislation would require the president to impose penalties on state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport and other Russian defense companies tied to unrest in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Syria. The sanctions would be extended to individuals and entities that help the companies.

The bill also would give the president the authority to provide lethal and non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine. This includes anti-tank weapons, counter-artillery radar and tactical surveillance drones. The bill also authorizes $350 million over two years to cover the cost.

Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year and has given support to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, angering Western nations.

Visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, Ukraine’s prime minister asked for help for his country’s military as it tries to tamp down pro-Russian insurgents and pleaded for more financial aid from the European Union.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said it was difficult to fight a Russia that is “armed to the teeth.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke Monday by phone and together urged Russia to ensure its “separatist proxies” cease blocking humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, according to a White House statement. Biden reaffirmed U.S. economic commitments to Ukraine and welcomed its ceasefire declared Dec. 9, the White House said.

The bill on sanctions and military aid was a rare example of unanimity in a divided Congress as the measure passed the House and Senate by voice vote.

Menendez said: “The territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored and President Putin must understand that his destabilizing actions have serious and profound consequences for his country.”

 

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