Rep. Pascrell Introduces the No Russian DACHA Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) announced the introduction of the No Russian DACHA (Diplomatic Access to Compounds Here in America) Act.
"The U.S. government shuttered these compounds because of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It makes no sense to give these facilities back without assurances that these properties were not used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes," said Rep. Pascrell. “While investigations trying to answer that very question are still ongoing, returning these compounds to Russia is premature at best and foolish at worst. Confounding actions taken by the administration are becoming the new normal, so this legislation allows Congress to step in. Let’s show the American people that there can be reasonable decision-makers still at the helm in Washington.”
On December 29, 2016, the Obama Administration announced its decision to shutter Russian compounds in Maryland and New York after all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that the Russian government meddled in the U.S. election, and in response to the continued harassment of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Moscow.
The facilities in Maryland and New York have been in Russia’s possession since the days of the Soviet Union for the purposes of rest and recreation for embassy and United Nations employees and to hold official events. However, since the Reagan Administration, U.S. officials have believed that these facilities were also being used for intelligence-related purposes by Russian personnel. President Obama declared this belief in his statement when he ordered the facilities closed.
The Washington Post reports the Trump administration is considering returning the two Russian compounds.
No Russian DACHA Act
To ensure that sanctions relief only comes in exchange for Russia ceasing the behavior that prompted these sanctions, the No Russian DACHA Act requires a 120-day review period before the President can waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions with respect to granting access to these facilities.
Reporting Requirement: The No Russian DACHA Act requires the President to submit a report to Congress describing any proposed changes to sanctions prior to taking any action that could grant access to the two Russian compounds. The report also must certify that the Government of Russia has ceased harassing U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia and that these properties were not used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes.
Congressional Action: Once the report has been received, the No Russian DACHA Act allows the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to act or decline to take action on any proposed sanctions relief. After the 120 day review period, if both the Senate and House have not voted in support of a Joint Resolution of Disapproval, access will be granted.
Bill copy is available here.
In December, Rep. Pascrell wrote a letter to Congressional leadership asking lawmakers to take early action in the new Congress to confront Russia's geopolitical aggression. His letter stressed codification of economic sanctions against Russia for their occupation of Crimea, which is the thrust of the STAND for Ukraine Act. The bill would codify increased economic sanctions on Russia 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.