Rep. Pascrell Says
Congress Must Increase
Letter suggests Congressional Leadership take early action in new Congress to confront Russia’s geopolitical aggression
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, recently wrote Congressional leaders calling for legislative action to confront Russia’s geopolitical aggression by codifying economic sanctions and renewing support for international allies.
“These sanctions serve as an important tool to ensure Russia abandons its oppression at home and aggression abroad, which is why I am so concerned that they could be easily undone with the stroke of a pen by a future administration,” Rep. Pascrell wrote in the letter. “The United States must send a clear message that we will not stand idly by as President Putin bullies his neighbors, tests the commitment of NATO, and works to fracture Western democracies.”
The letter asks leaders to prioritize the passage of the STAND for Ukraine Act (H.R. 5094), which would codify increased economic sanctions on Russia that are currently authorized through executive order.
The letter was sent to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Minority Leader-Elect Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and copies were sent to President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump.
Text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi and Minority Leader-Elect Schumer:
In light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued meddling and aggression around the globe, I encourage you to prioritize our national security in the 115th Congress. One of the first items of business the Congress must consider next year is legislation to further tighten economic sanctions against Russia. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the STAND for Ukraine Act to contain, reverse, and deter Russian aggression in Ukraine; support the sovereignty of Crimea against Russia’s illegal annexation; and ultimately assist Ukraine’s democratic transition. Advancing this bill would be an important show of American strength.
President Putin’s attempts to undermine global stability are boundless. Russia has cultivated networks of patronage across Central and Eastern Europe in order to influence and direct decision-making to serve the Kremlin’s interests. Russia has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty by providing aid to separatists who attack Ukrainian military positions in Donetsk and Donbass, resulting in civilian casualties. In a similar vein, Russia continues to support the Syrian Government through its supply of ammunition and weapons, as well as its efforts to destroy opposition-controlled population zones and civilian infrastructure. The clear intent of these actions is to preserve Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Finally, U.S. intelligence clearly demonstrates that the Russian Government directed an extensive breach of e-mails from U.S. citizens and institutions, including U.S. political organizations, during our election. These actions threaten our democratic institutions, national security, and sovereignty – and warrant a swift, strong response.
As you know, the current sanctions on Russia were implemented in 2014 through executive orders relating to its actions in Ukraine. These sanctions serve as an important tool to ensure Russia abandons its oppression at home and aggression abroad, which is why I am so concerned that they could be easily undone with the stroke of a pen by a future administration. The United States must send a clear message that we will not stand idly by as President Putin bullies his neighbors, tests the commitment of NATO, and works to fracture Western democracies. That is why it is critical for the Congress to pass the STAND for Ukraine Act.
The STAND for Ukraine Act would codify the 2014 sanctions levied against Russia through executive orders into U.S. law, making it more difficult for future administrations to unravel our efforts to deter President Putin’s aggression and disrespect for global order. This legislation builds on existing sanctions and sends a clear signal to Russia about the U.S.’s commitment to this policy, just as we did during the Soviet Union’s decades-long occupation of the Baltic States. Maintaining strict sanctions on Russia until it abandons its oppression at home and aggression abroad has always been a source of bipartisan support, evidenced by the strong bipartisan passage of every piece of legislation ramping up Russian sanctions. Now, more than ever, it is critical the United States stand up to President Putin by sending a clear message that Russia’s aggression will not be tolerated.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress