WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today joined Democratic Whip Rep. Steny H. Hoyer; Rep. Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services; and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary at a press conference to introduce the Secure America from Russian Interference Act. This bipartisan legislation includes language from Rep. Engel’s SECURE Our Democracy Act (H.R. 530), which imposes sanctions on anyone who interfered in the U.S. 2016 election and or any future election.
Rep. Engel delivered the following remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Whip. Thank you and thank my fellow Members here as well.
“I’m Eliot Engel from New York, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I authored a part of this excellent bill Mr. Hoyer has put together.
“We all know what a disgrace this week has been: the President’s embarrassing performance, playing into the hands of our chief adversary, Vladimir Putin; the sloppy damage control from the White House that, at the end of the day, just reaffirms what Mr. Trump said in Helsinki; and, here on Capitol Hill, the phony protests of Congressional Republicans who are throwing up their hands and complaining, ‘We’ve done so much already, what else can we do?’
“The idea that Congress has exhausted all its options to rein in the Administration and push back on Russia is just preposterous. Relative to the size of the threat we’re facing, Congress has done next to nothing. It’s like saying, ‘A hurricane just smashed the coast and another is on the way… let’s send a few rolls of paper towels.
“So, the next time we hear the question, what more can Congress do: here’s the answer: this piece of legislation right here. Right here, here’s the answer. The one we all put together under Mr. Hoyer’s leadership.
“The part I wrote, along with Gerry Connolly, would ratchet up sanctions. Unlike the sanctions package we passed last year, this measure specifically goes after anyone who interferes with an American election from overseas—or anyone who interfered in the past. In the past is important because we have a good deal of knowledge that the Russians did intercede.
“This is especially important—that we look back—in light of Special Counsel Mueller’s most recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers. We’re learning more and more about just how damaging Russia’s attack was, about the tactics they used to support Donald Trump, Putin’s preferred candidate – as he himself admitted. We cannot let those responsible off the hook. That’s what we’re attempting to do today.
“All of us standing up here have been pushing the Administration since day one to take this threat seriously—to protect our democracy. But I don’t think the stakes have been clearer than they are this week.
“The President made it clear that he’s taking Putin’s side—Putin’s side over our American intelligence community. What a shame. What a disgrace—over law enforcement, over our friends and allies around the world. It’s unbelievable that we would stand here and say that about an American president, but we all saw it with our own eyes. It’s not political spin, or political hype. We saw what the President did, he sided with Putin over American intelligence. He sided with Russia over the United States.
“That means, to meet this challenge, it needs to start right here… in the Congress. As long as President Trump abdicates his responsibility to defend the United States, it’s up to us. We won’t stand by when the President is acting as Putin’s poodle. There’s more we can do, and must do. This bill will put us on that path.
“So I thank you and I’m happy to introduce my friend from California, the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters.”
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