The White House’s efforts to break the opposition of House Republicans to controversial funding reforms of the International Monetary Fund took a fresh twist Friday as Press Secretary Josh Earnest linked support of IMF reforms to a cause dear to many conservative GOP lawmakers: support for Ukraine.
At the regular briefing for reporters at the White House, Newsmax noted recent urgings from the president and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde for Congress to enact the reforms Obama agreed to four years ago and how the attitude of Republican House Members is not only in opposition but hostile to the Fund itself.
In citing Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R.-Tennessee), we pointed out to Earnest that he has expressed interest in re-introducing a measure sponsored in 2011 by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.-Washington) that would rescind the additional $108 billion that Congress in 2009, when it was under Democratic control, voted the IMF.
"Well, the White House and the president and the administration and the president have all been very clear about how important these IMF reforms are," Earnest told us, referring to changes in IMF voting that Lagarde, Obama and other world leaders agreed to that would double the Fund’s capital equity market and shift 6 percentage points of the total to emerging markets.
Most controversial of all, the reforms would move two of the IMF’s 24 directorships from European to developing countries, including China.
The president’s top spokesman, referring to Duncan, then said that "many of the people you describe are the same people who are suggesting we should do more to support the people of Ukraine. Certainly the IMF has played a very important role in offering economic assistance to the people of Ukraine.
"And more assistance could be provided if the IMF had access to greater resources. The IMF would have access to greater resources if the Congress would follow through on passing these IMF reforms."
Earnest’s salvo to Republican House Members who are hostile to the IMF came a day after the House passed Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s (R.-Illinois) resolution calling on all U.S. partners in Europe to suspend any cooperation with Russia, and for Russia to reverse its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and pull back its military forces and equipment from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The vote on the measure (House Resolution 758) was 411-to-10.
Among supporters of Kinzinger’s resolution was Duncan, who told Newsmax in May, "I’m against the IMF reforms because I don’t believe in world government."
In hinting he might re-introduce the legislation to rescind $100 billion from the IMF, Duncan also said that Lagarde’s "main concern was her organization, and the package of reforms would give too much power to international bureaucrats. It was a mistake for the president to promise that the U.S. would go along with those reforms and it would be a further mistake for Congress to go along with him."
Another backer of the Ukraine resolution was Rep. Bill Posey (R.-Florida), a member of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee starting on his fourth House term, who told Newsmax in May that "[m]y first duty and responsibility is the constituents I have been elected to represent; the U.S. taxpayers.
"I have to ask myself, why would I vote for a proposal that increases U.S. taxpayer exposure, has the potential to increase U.S. spending, while also reducing U.S. influence over how our contributions to the IMF are spent?"
"So I think this is a pretty open and shut case," Earnest told Newsmax, "and we’re hopeful that Congress will — that congressional Republicans, I should say, will do the right thing here and act on those IMF reforms."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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