A Senate package of aid and sanctions in response to the Ukrainian crisis is being held up by a demand from Republicans to include a provision targeting a pending Obama administration rule to crack down on tax exemptions claimed by political nonprofits.Corker and his fellow Republicans are trying to block the IRS from imposing new regulations designed to prevent political groups from illegally obtaining non-profit tax status. Although they wrap their arguments in the First Amendment, what they are really trying to do is make sure that billionaires like the Koch brothers get a tax subsidy when they donate to groups that engage in political campaigns by letting those groups get non-profit status even when they are not entitled to it.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cited the issue involving 501(c)4 groups as one of the outstanding issues left on the Ukraine bill. He signaled that adding the provision could be a way to get the GOP on board with the legislation, especially because it includes changes to the International Monetary Fund opposed by some congressional Republicans.
And now Senate Democratic leadership is calling out the Republican ploy. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said it was such a brazen move that it wouldn't even seem credible in an episode of House of Cards and Majority Leader Harry Reid was similarly astonished:
“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.’Indeed it is hard to comprehend. But given the sad state of affairs in today's GOP, it's not exactly a surprise.
“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.