S. 2183: United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions

S. 2183

United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions

Sponsor
Sen. Mitch McConnell

Date
April 1, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the House will consider S. 2183, United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions, under suspension of the rules.  S. 2183 was introduced on March 27, 2014 by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  The bill was passed in the Senate on March 27, 2014 by unanimous consent.  S. 2183 is identical to Sec. 103 of H.R. 4278, which passed in the House on March 27, 2014 by a vote of 399-19 (See Roll Call #148).  

Bill Summary

S. 2183 provides an increase in targeted U.S. international broadcasting, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA), in areas where access to uncensored information is particularly limited, including eastern Ukraine and Crimea.  Specifically, S. 2183 requires RFE/RL and VOA to provide (1) 24/7 programming content to target populations, as well as (2) increased original content to supplement live coverage of breaking news.  The bill requires RFE/RL and VOA to increase the number of reporters in eastern Ukraine, especially in Crimea; and to expand the use of mobile news and multimedia platforms, including social networking platforms.  S. 2183 directs RFE/RL and VOA to partner with private sector broadcasters to expand programming coverage.  The bill authorizes $10 million from previous appropriations for RFE/RL and VOA to increase programming to target populations in Ukraine and the surrounding region.

Background

On February 22, 2014, former President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev as a result of protracted conflicts between antigovernment protestors and Ukrainian security forces in which up to 100 people were killed.[1]  The origin of the conflicts can be traced to the former President’s decision to suspend plans to sign an Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU), which would have included a free trade zone, in favor of economic support from Russia.[2]  An interim government was installed and elections are expected to be held in May of 2014.[3]  On March 21, 2014, Ukraine’s interim government and the EU signed portions of the AA dealing with political issues.[4]  Portions of the AA dealing with economic issues are expected to be signed once the new Ukrainian President is elected.[5]

Subsequent to Yanukovych’s departure, Russia condemned Ukraine’s new interim government as illegitimate and dispatched Russian Federation forces to seize the Crimea peninsula in Ukraine’s eastern region.[6]  Crimea’s Parliament held a referendum on Crimea’s future on March 16, 2014 that “was allegedly approved by 96.77% of those voting, with a turnout of 83.1%”; and on March 18, Russia annexed Crimea.[7]  Ukraine, the United States, the E.U. and others denounced the vote as illegal and criticized Russia’s actions as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and of international law.[8]



[1] Steven Woehrel, Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, Congressional Research Service (Mar. 24, 2014) at 1-2.

[2] Id.

[3] Id. at 4.

[4] Id. at 5.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 4.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

Cost

A CBO estimate is currently unavailable.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.