Committee to Consider Ukraine Support Act Tuesday Morning

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, introduced legislation to promote Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability.  The Committee will meet to consider the legislation, H.R. 4278, the “Ukraine Support Act” at a markup on Tuesday, March 25 at 10 a.m.

Text of H.R. 4278 and a section-by-section summary are available HERE.

Upon introducing H.R. 4278, Chairman Royce said:  “I am pleased to work with Ranking Member Engel on the Ukraine Support Act.  Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and intimidation of Ukraine should be a wakeup call.  The U.S. and our European friends should be bolstering the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.  That means aiding Ukraine’s fledgling democracy, with its May elections looming, and bolstering its economy, including by helping break Putin’s energy grip over Eastern Europe.   The U.S. should act immediately to increase natural gas exports to Europe, undermining Russia’s monopoly, and creating American jobs.  Strong sanctions against those Russians responsible for this aggression against Ukraine are critical.”

Ranking Member Engel said:  “The United States must stand with the people of Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s attack on and occupation of Crimea. This important legislation supplements the President’s efforts to impose sanctions on those responsible for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, looting Ukraine’s economy, and violating human rights in Ukraine.  It sends a clear message to President Putin and his corrupt cronies that we will not tolerate Russian aggression.  The bill also provides assistance to support the people of Ukraine as they work to rebuild their economy and prepare for democratic elections, and reaffirms our commitment to the security of our NATO partners in East and Central Europe.” 

H.R. 4278 includes both a sanctions component and a Ukraine support component.

On sanctions, H.R. 4278:

·         Codifies existing Executive Orders sanctioning individuals involved in the violence in Ukraine or who undermine the independence, sovereignty or territorial or economic integrity of Ukraine.  This includes the most recent Executive Order, which allows for sanctions against broad sectors of the Russian economy;

·         Calls on the President to sanction those individuals, within and outside of Russia who wield significant influence over the formulation and implementation of Russian foreign policy;

·         Authorizes the President to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, on anyone involved in November 2013 in:

o   Undermining the democratic processes or serious human rights abuses in Ukraine;

o   Violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity;

o   Significant acts of corruption, including misappropriation of Ukrainian assets;

o   Russia’s arms sector; or

o   Is providing material support to anyone involved in such activity

·         Requires the President to routinely report to Congress on senior Russian political figures who are engaged in such activity;

·         Requires the Administration to carefully scrutinize banks, especially Russian banks, to determine if they are involved in the plunder of Ukraine’s assets; money laundering, terrorist or proliferation financing, or actively helping to skirt sanctions; or helping to annex Crimea;

·         Calls out the State Department for being seriously delinquent  in implementing the law that would trigger sanctions against Russian companies for proliferation activities regarding Syria and Iran;

·         Notes that only 18 Russian officials have been sanctioned for gross human rights violations under the Magnitsky Act.

On support to Ukraine, H.R. 4278:

·         Supports democracy and civil society in Ukraine by improving transparency, rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts and strengthens political organizations and protects independent media as Ukraine prepares for free and fair elections in May;

·         Provides for a surge in targeted broadcasting by requiring Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America to increase broadcasts into eastern Ukraine (including Crimea) and target ethnic Russian communities;

·         Encourages the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to prioritize investments in Ukraine;

·         Enhances security cooperation among NATO states in Central and Eastern Europe through military training, exercises, and the exchange of defense articles;

·         Assists Ukrainian law enforcement to improve protection of human rights;

·         Provides expedited assistance to the Government of Ukraine to identify and recover assets stolen from the Government of Ukraine or linked to corruption by Viktor Yanukovych;

·         Encourages the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to increase investments in Ukraine and cease new investments in Russia;

·         Encourages U.S. efforts to break Russia’s energy grip over Eastern Europe.

Note:  Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed H. Res. 499, authored by Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel, which condemns the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by Russian forces, endorsing Russian sanctions and calling on the U.S. to promote increased gas exports to reduce Vladimir Putin’s leverage.

In addition to considering H.R. 4278 on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Committee will also consider H. Res. 494, Affirming the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act and H. Res. 418, Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma.