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Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee roundtable discussion on the strategic and fiscal imperative to transfer Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine and existing legislative proposals to pressure the Biden administration to take this critical step, including his REPO Act


– Remarks as Delivered –

Thanks to everyone for being here today to discuss how the United States and our allies can transfer billions of dollars of frozen Russian sovereign assets to help in the effort in the war in Ukraine.

It’s very timely. I just got back from the White House and the situation room talking about an emergency national security aid supplemental package that would include Israel funding — which is desperately needed — Ukraine, it would also include Indo-Pacific, and the border.

These are dangerous times and I don’t need to tell anybody in this room that fact, when Hamas invaded Israel last week. Between Hamas-Israel war and the growing threat of the CCP around the world, particularly the Pacific and the South China Sea, we can’t lose our focus on Ukraine – the largest invasion of Europe since World War II. 

I’ve been critical of the Biden administration for being weak, leading from behind, slow rolling the weapons necessary for Ukraine to win. I’ve been pushing for the ATACMS. We met with Zelenskyy just two weeks ago and I said ‘what do you need?’ and he said ‘I need the long range artillery, I can’t hit the Iranian drones in Crimea without the longer range artillery.’ I don’t know why that decision is so difficult and you have the NSC blaming the DOD, the DOD blaming others.

The fact is, they can win this thing if we gave them what they needed, and I agree with Colin Powell: you either go all in or you get out. We ought to be going all in for victory. I know on my side of the aisle they want a path to victory an administration can win. We don’t like losing, the American people don’t like losing. We like to win. We can’t hold the political will of the American people if we have a failing program and a mismanaged war.

They don’t want to bear the burden of this cost as Europe is not living up to its commitment. Now, some NATO countries are, and they are stepping up to the plate, but there are still others that are not.

This administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine is “for as long as it takes.” My response immediately was: it shouldn’t take that long. And that’s not a strategy. We want victory as soon as possible, we need to know that the burden is going to be shared, and not only must Europe continue to provide Ukraine more non-security assistance [than] the United States provides, but also the Russian sovereign assets is a winner in my judgment.

The very people who started this war and this conflict, in my judgment, should be paying for the cost and not as much as the U.S. taxpayer. That is why I introduced the REPO Act, the bipartisan, bicameral legislation that demands the Biden administration transfer frozen Russian sovereign assets to the Ukraine effort. It is beyond time that Russia pay for the war that it created. My bill prohibits the Biden administration from unfreezing Russian sovereign assets until Russia ends its unprovoked war of aggression and agrees to compensate Ukraine for the damages it has inflicted.

The administration’s disastrous $6 billion payment for Iran as part of a hostage deal with the Ayatollah exposed their willingness to trade away billions of dollars in negotiations with our adversaries. And that is why I introduced a bill this month to permanently freeze the [$]6 billion of Iranian funds covered under the hostage deal through secondary sanctions. We must ensure these funds remain out of the hands of Iran and out of the hands of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. 

We cannot allow Biden to greenlight the return of Russian sovereign assets to Putin and the Russian war machine. To be clear, the war crimes and genocide committed by Russia cannot be reversed by money alone. Murdered innocent civilians including women and children, they can’t be brought back, and the trauma of the war will never be forgotten. But critical infrastructure – homes, towns, businesses – can be rebuilt. I hope we get to a reconstruction phase. I hope this conflict can be resolved, and along with our European and G-7 allies we hold as much as $300 billion of Russian funds that can be used for not only Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction but also immediate economic and humanitarian assistance.

Importantly, taking this action would be a deterrence to other would-be aggressors with a clear message: the financial systems of the G-7 and the EU will be closed off to those who violate another nation’s sovereignty. Chairman Xi needs to see the free world has the will and the fortitude to ensure bullies cannot act with impunity.

Transferring Russian sovereign assets is not just the morally right thing to do, it’s strategically the right thing to do. It’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do on behalf of our constituents. Putin caused this devastation, and in my judgment, Putin must pay for it.

That is what this bill is all about and I want to thank the members for being here on this very important topic. If we ever get a speaker back in the chair, this is going to be one of the first items on the agenda in our national security interest to defend Israel, to defend Ukraine from aggression, to defend our borders, and defend Taiwan.