Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Reid, Durbin Accuse GOP of Putting Koch Brothers Ahead of Ukrainians

Senate Democratic leaders lit into Republicans Thursday over reports of an effort to tie aid to Ukraine to a move to block the IRS from clamping down on the political activities of tax-exempt groups.

“If you submitted that plot line that we can’t protect Americans and our friends overseas unless we protect the Koch brothers to ‘House of Cards,’ they’d reject it as a script incredible,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said. “No one would take that position.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been hammering Charles and David Koch and the conservative 501(c)(4) group Americans for Prosperity recently.

Earlier this week, Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made public a push by some in the GOP to insist on blocking the IRS from imposing new restrictions on the political activities of groups such as Americans for Prosperity claiming the not-for-profit tax status as part of a deal to adopt a package of International Monetary Fund proposals that date to 2010.

“This came up in the omnibus, so it’s been around for a while,” Reid said at a news conference Thursday. “I was glad to see the Republicans finally come out publicly and say this is what they want. This is hard for me to comprehend, how in clear conscience they could say, ‘Ukrainians, we probably can’t help you because we’re trying to protect the Koch brothers.’

“Not only that, they’re saying to the American people that protecting the Koch brothers is more important than protecting our country. The Ukrainian issue is important,” Reid added.

As for the underlying IMF funding issue, Senate Democrats and House Republicans disagree on the connection to events on the ground in Ukraine.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday the two are not really linked.

“Let’s make sure we all understand something: The IMF money has nothing to do with Ukraine. I understand the administration wants the IMF money, but it has nothing at all to do with Ukraine,” Boehner said. “The Senate should pass this bill and send it to the president’s desk before leaving for the district work period.”

Reid rejected both Boehner’s suggestion to pass the House bill and the argument about the Ukrainian connection. “I’ll tell you this: I stand against the House bill,” Reid said. “Can you imagine to let Russia go unsanctioned?”

“I can’t imagine the gymnastics my friend the speaker would use to say that IMF has nothing to do with Ukraine,” Reid said, insisting it is “vitally important.”

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