- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saying they hoped to head off rather than spark a deeper confrontation with Russia, both houses of Congress voted Thursday to codify sanctions on top Russian officials and extend loan guarantees to Ukraine.

The Senate voted by voice, while the House voted overwhelmingly, 399-19, for slightly different versions of bills. They now must settle on one of those to send to the president’s desk, pending one more final vote.

But lawmakers said Thursday’s votes were the key signal that Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world must heed.

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“I am not predicting that we will have a World War III. I am predicting that unless we act and act vigorously — a lot more than this legislation today — Vladimir Putin will be encouraged to take further actions,” said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has claimed leadership among GOP senators on the issue.

The legislation had been held up for two weeks while Senate Democrats sought to try to include changes to the International Monetary Fund, and Republicans objected. In the end, Democrats relented and withdrew their IMF provisions and the bill easily cleared the Senate.

In the House, the legislation was likewise popular, with just 17 Republicans and two Democrats voting against it.

Many lawmakers said the sanctions and aid aren’t enough.

Mr. McCain and several fellow Republicans have called for extending military aid to Ukraine.

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