June 13, 2017

Crapo Statement on Russia Sanctions Amendment

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, took to the Senate Floor today to discuss his legislation to expand and strengthen sanctions on the Russian Federation. The amendment to the underlying Iran sanctions bill represents a bipartisan agreement among Banking Committee Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Maryland). 

“Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the Crapo-Brown-Corker-Cardin “Countering Russian Aggression and Cyberattacks Act of 2017,” which was filed as Amendment 232 to the Iran Sanctions bill.

“Yesterday, the Senate Banking and Senate Foreign Relations Committees concluded their work on a groundbreaking piece of legislation regarding Russia Sanctions.

“I say ‘groundbreaking’ because the legislation not only ratchets up pressure against the Russian Federation for its illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea, continuing escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, and malign cyber activities against businesses and citizens of the United States, but it also importantly provides Congress with a strong oversight process over almost any termination or suspension of these sanctions.  

“Senators Corker, Brown and Cardin and their staffs spent many, many hours to ensure we put together a thoughtful, measured product, and I thank them for their hard work.

“Senator Brown and I have worked together for several months to craft a responsible Russia sanctions package, and Senator Corker has been a tireless champion of this measure.

“Also, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the work of Senators McCain, Graham and Shaheen, who inspired much of what this bill addresses.

“All of us appreciate the leadership of Majority Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer, who were in the trenches with us late last night as we came to our final agreement.

“The need for this legislation was underlined by the fact that many Americans have deep concerns about Russia’s behavior over the past few years. 

“Since coming to power, Russian President Putin has become increasingly belligerent, nationalistic and autocratic. 

“Currently, the United States has imposed sanctions on Russia for: Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its role in supporting the separatist movements in eastern Ukraine; Russia’s increasing cyber-attacks and cyber espionage against the United States; Russia’s support for the Assad Regime in Syria; and Russia’s complicity for corruption.  

“Although this is not an exhaustive list, it demonstrates the lengths to which Putin will go to seize power and influence in the international arena.  

“Unfortunately, Putin’s desire to increase Russia’s political influence is not driven by a desire to raise the standard of living for all Russians. 

“Instead, it is a driven by a craving to enrich and empower himself and his cronies.  

“Over the course of the past three months, the Senate Banking Committee has held hearings assessing the impacts of the current sanctions regime against Russia.  

“We examined the existing Russian sanctions architecture in terms of its effectiveness and economic impact. 

“The Russians have largely learned to live within the economic confines of the existing sanctions regime.

“In Putin’s calculus, the costs of the sanctions do not outweigh the benefits of occupying Crimea and contributing to unrest in Ukraine, continuing to support the Assad regime’s assault on civilians in Syria, and conducting cyber-attacks on people, companies, and institutions.

“Many of us, on both sides of the aisle, feel that the United States needs to be much stronger in its response.

“Americans want to see the United States stand firm in defense of our long-held values, which include respect for territorial integrity, human rights, and liberty. 

“At this point, the only way to change Putin’s cost-benefit analysis is to increase the pressure we apply directly through sanctions. 

“The Crapo-Brown-Corker-Cardin amendment is an effective way to increase the pressure on Russia for its irresponsible conduct. 

“Our legislation signals to the world the United States’ unflagging commitment to the sanctity of territorial integrity, human rights, and good governance. 

“Our amendment also demonstrates our resolve in responding to cyber-attacks against American citizens and entities and against our allies.

“In summary, the Crapo-Brown-Corker-Cardin amendment does four things: It escalates and expands the current sanctions regime against Russia; It creates new sanctions against Russia; It engages Congress at a higher level than before by providing a mechanism for Congress to vote before lifting any sanctions on Russia; It increases the Treasury Department’s ability to track illicit finance, including illicit flows linked to Russia.

“We escalate and expand the current sanctions regime against Russia by codifying and modifying six current Executive Orders. 

“Four of these orders relate to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and two relate to Russia’s malicious cyber-activity.

“We expand the sanctions under the Ukraine-related Executive Orders to reach Russian deepwater, Arctic, and shale projects worldwide.

“We also permit the President to apply these sanctions to Russian railway, shipping, and metals and mining sectors.

“The amendment also creates several new sanctions against Russia.

“There are new sanctions for those who are engaged in significant activities undermining cybersecurity.  These sanctions also apply to those providing material support for such malicious cyber actors.

“We impose mandatory sanctions on entities engaged in special Russian energy projects and on foreign financial institution facilitating transactions in response to Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine.

“The amendment includes tough sanctions on Russian government officials, their relatives, and close associates responsible for significant corruption in Russia or elsewhere. 

“It sanctions people who help others evade sanctions, and people responsible for human rights violations in any territory controlled by Russia.

“Additionally, it sanctions those who work for or on behalf of the Russian defense and intelligence sectors; those who invest or support the construction of Russian energy export pipelines; and corrupt government officials who enrich themselves after making deals to privatize state-owned assets.

“Finally, it sanctions those who help the Assad regime acquire chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons technology; ballistic or cruise missile capabilities; or destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.

“The Crapo-Brown-Corker-Cardin amendment will result in some very powerful new sanctions against Russia. 

“Part of our agreement includes Congressional Review language to ensure Congress exerts proper oversight of the use of these powerful sanctions. 

“We require the President to notify Congress when imposing certain types of sanctions and we will have the opportunity to review any attempts to lift sanctions with regard to Russia. 

“We intend to use this review model on all sanctions regimes moving forward, and I intend to work to apply it to Iran. 

“Amendment 232 is more than just the sanctions and Congressional review. 

“This legislation also includes important counter-terrorism financing provisions adopted by the House and Senate during the 114th Congress. 

“It requires the creation of a national strategy for combating the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance.

“This strategy ensures the United States pursues a coordinated and effective fight against illicit finance at all levels of the Russian government. 

“Our measure requires the strategy to enhance public-private partnerships to prevent and detect illicit finance. 

“The measure also requires the Treasury Department to report on its efforts to identify illicit finance flows linked to Russia affecting the U.S. financial system or the financial system of our allies.

“We must engage all of our allies, particularly our trading partners, to work with us so that we achieve our objectives without collateral damage, which is so often the case.

“It is important that our trading partners be with us on this issue, rather than victims of the actions we take.

“This is a strong, bipartisan measure that in important respects represents the next step forward.

“Of course, this will not be the last step if Putin does not begin to demonstrate verifiable steps toward reducing its course of aggression on multiple fronts.

“Make no mistake, the sanctions currently in place, and those introduced in our amendment last night, are Putin’s fault and a result of Putin’s confused notions of Russian power and pride.

“Even though unilateral actions are not the best option, America must lead on this issue and encourage others to follow, since the most successful sanctions result from a united front of U.S. and E.U. cooperation.

“Since the unlawful annexation of Crimea, the years of destabilizing Eastern Ukraine through relentless war, the global spread of cyber-intrusions and Putin’s indefensible support of Assad’s leadership of Syria, particularly in light of the its recent chemical attack, fewer are left in Europe to defend Putin’s policies.

“The times call for clarity of purpose, and a correct amount of pressure. We have that in this amendment.

“Again, thank you to Senators Corker, Brown and Cardin for your hard work and support.

“And thank you to Leader McConnell and Senator Schumer for all of your help and support.  I look forward to passing this measure in short order. 

“I encourage my colleagues to support this bipartisan amendment. With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.”