Royce, Engel Legislation Heads to House Floor

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, H.R. 4278, the Ukraine Support Act, as amended.  The legislation, introduced last week by Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), promotes Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability.

A summary of the Committee action, including adopted amendments, will be available HERE this afternoon.

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

Chairman Royce on the legislation’s passage said:  “Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea have created an international crisis.  The danger is far from over.  If we wish to deter Putin from further aggression, the U.S. and our allies must take immediate action to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and target Russian officials and others who are responsible for those actions.  Removing existing restrictions on U.S. exports of oil and natural gas will not only boost the U.S. economy and create American jobs, but also enhance our national security by undermining Russia’s ability to use its energy exports to blackmail other countries, including our allies in Europe.  Passage of today’s legislation sends a clear message of American resolve that will be heard in Kiev, in Moscow, and throughout the region.”

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 the Russian government who wield significant influence over the formulation and implementation of Russian foreign policy, including Russian oligarchs;
  • Authorizes the President to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, against anyone who:

– has undermined the democratic processes or conducted serious human rights abuses in Ukraine;

– has violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity;

– has engaged in significant acts of corruption, including misappropriation of Ukrainian assets;

– is engaged in Russia’s arms sector; or

– has provided 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;
  • States that the State Department is seriously delinquent in implementing the law that would trigger sanctions against Russian companies and others for proliferation activities regarding Iran, Syria and North Korea;
  • Urges the President to expand the list of Russian officials 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;
  • Supports increased U.S. security cooperation among NATO states in Central and Eastern Europe through military training, exercises, and the exchange of defense articles;
  • Calls for U.S. efforts to enhance Ukraine’s self-defense capabilities, including through a review of U.S. security assistance to that country;
  • 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 former officials, including 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, including through the promotion of increased natural gas exports and an examination of the potential impact of increased U.S. natural gas and oil exports on Russia’s influence.

During today’s markup, the Committee also passed H. Res. 494, (Mr. Royce), affirming the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act, and H. Res. 418, (Mr. McGovern), 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.