August 21, 2018

Crapo Statement at Hearing on Russia Sanctions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today delivered the following opening remarks during a full committee hearing entitled: “Russia Sanctions: Current Effectiveness and Potential for Next Steps." 

"The hearing will come to order. 

"This morning the Committee will receive testimony from senior administration officials from the Departments of Treasury, State and Homeland Security on the implementation and effectiveness of the sanctions program currently in place against Russia. 

"The reasons for these sanctions include Russia’s standing military incursions in Ukraine; abetting Assad’s atrocities in Syria; conducting cyber enabled information warfare activities and cyber-attacks against United States critical infrastructure, including its malicious meddling in U.S. elections, among a host of other malign Russian activities. 

"The Banking Committee plays a leading role in developing any legislation that proposes the use of sanctions and financial pressure, more especially those measures involving financial institutions, sovereign debt, and other financial instruments to address serious threats to the national security of the United States. 

"Just about one-year ago, on August 2nd, the President signed into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017, known as CAATSA, which included in it, among other things, authorities for not only a set of strengthened sanctions against Russia but also brand new authorities for several powerful mandatory secondary sanctions.  

"It was this Committee that put together the foundation for those sanctions and financial measures on Russia and then worked with the Committee on Foreign Relations to expand them as part of CAATSA.   

"CAATSA was truly a four-square effort. It was not only strongly bipartisan, but also bicameral. It passed the House by a vote of 419-3 and two days later, by the Senate on a vote of 98-2. 

"It’s not often that Congress acts together in such a strong manner, as marked by such near-unanimous votes. But, then, Russia is a menace on so many different levels, today, that Congress can be compelled to act with a single voice to find solutions that will protect America and democratic values across the world.   

"To its credit, the administration, in the year since CAATSA, has imposed some of the toughest sanctions on Russia in years, particularly with regard to those imposed in April on Russia’s oligarchs and their business associations.   

"The bulk of sanctions imposed against Russia pertain to its unlawful invasion and annexation of Crimea.  These were strengthened by Congress in CAATSA and absent any change in Putin’s behavior, will likely remain in place until he’s no longer in power and Crimea is returned. 

"In all, over the last year, the administration has sanctioned over 200 targeted Russian individuals and entities, for either its cyberattacks or Ukraine behavior either pursuant to congressional sanctions, or under its own executive authority.   

"I hope to receive an update today from our witnesses on how the sanctions against Russia are being implemented and enforced. 

"It was a positive step when, two weeks ago, in response to Russia’s use of a nerve agent in Britain against one of its former spies and his daughter, the State Department showed its resolve against Moscow while it took a stand with our British allies by imposing a set of escalatory sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. 

"The administration is taking some important steps against Putin, his cronies, and the industrial apparatus they control, but can Congress expect more from the administration – and, when? 

"Congress itself is positioned to do more.  There are bills in this committee and in the foreign relations committee which seek to escalate economic pain throughout Russia’s banking and energy sectors and sovereign debt markets. 

"As we all, and that includes the administration, consider next steps to further constrain Putin, including sanctions and other diplomatic initiatives, two questions come to mind - 

"What degree of success have the existing evolutions of sanctions, which work to constrain the Russian economy and derail the activities of those individuals closest to Putin, had on Putin’s behavior at home and abroad? 

"What is the most effective way to coordinate and strengthen sanctions with our European allies and other partners?  

"Senator Brown."

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