WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress who were hit Thursday with sanctions by Russia celebrated their standing as a badge of honor, pledging to continue pressing for Ukraine from their spot on President Vladimir Putin's enemies list.
"I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off," quipped Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who just returned from leading a group of lawmakers to Ukraine with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).
House Speaker John A. Boehner's spokesman said the Ohio Republican was "proud to be included on the list of those willing to stand against Putin's aggression."
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who was meeting with American allies in Brussels, said that "if standing up for the Ukrainian people, their freedom, their hard-earned democracy and their sovereignty means I'm sanctioned by Putin, so be it."
The retaliatory move barring several American leaders from entering Russia came after the U.S. imposed another round of sanctions on Russian officials Thursday. The U.S. is protesting Russia's annexation of Crimea after residents of that region voted to secede from Ukraine.
The lawmakers' bravado comes despite the failure of Congress to approve a bipartisan package of loans for the new Ukrainian government and sanctions on Russian officials.
The House approved the $1-billion loan package, but a Senate measure stalled because some Republicans have objected to cutting dormant Pentagon funds to pay for it. Some Republicans also balked at a provision that enhances the International Monetary Fund's ability to make loans, including to Ukraine. The Senate is expected to resume consideration of the measure when lawmakers return next week from recess.