By Alexander Bolton - 03/13/14 01:20 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday accused Republicans of holding up crucial assistance to Ukraine in order to protect the Koch brothers.
Reid tied the billionaires David and Charles Koch, who have bankrolled conservative causes, to GOP demands that language delaying the Internal Revenue Service’s regulation of nonprofit political advocacy groups be added to the Ukraine package.
Some conservative Republicans want the IRS language added if the bill is also to include reforms to the International Monetary Fund backed by the White House.
Reid has been on the warpath against the Koch brothers, with barely a day passing that doesn't include an attack on them.
“It’s hard for me to comprehend how with a clear conscience they could say, ‘Ukrainians, we probably can’t help you because we’re trying to protect the Koch brothers,’” he said on Thursday. “And not only that, they’re saying to the American people that protecting the Koch brothers is more important than helping our country.”
The disagreement over IMF funding between Democratic and Republican leaders will prevent Congress from passing legislation to assist Ukraine before leaving for a weeklong recess at the end of this week.
Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democrat, dismissed the Republican demand as a nonstarter. He said even a one-year delay of the IRS rule-making would be unacceptable.
“The bottom line is this is so deleterious to our political system that there should not be a delay,” he said of political spending by social welfare groups that qualify under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. “Do you think any Americans, except the very few who are spending this money and benefiting, think we should allow this continue for even a day more? I don’t.
“This is serious stuff, it’s corrupting our political process. Everyday delay corrupts it more,” he said.
Schumer called IMF language contained in legislation approved by the Senate Foreign Relations necessary to blunt Russia’s influence over Ukraine.
The House has passed legislation that allows $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine but does not include sanctions against Russia or IMF reform.
Schumer called IMF funding “our chit to put on the table when the Russians put their financial chit on the table, and it helps keep Ukraine free.”
“It’s just wrong that we’re the only country that is opposing the reforms to the IMF,” he said.
The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve a shift of $63 billion within the IMF from a special crisis fund to the general loan pool.
Republicans say the shift would leave the United States with less influence over the funding because general loans are approved by a simple majority of the IMF Executive Board.