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Rep. Pascrell Calls on House Leaders to Act on Russian Sanctions

Letter highlights troubling comments by White House aide on return of seized Russian compounds

U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) called on the leadership in the House of Representatives today to bring a legislative package of Russia sanctions up for a vote in light of remarks yesterday by White House aide Sebastian Gorka that indicated the Trump Administration is preparing to return shuttered Russian compounds. The legislative package of Russia sanctions, which passed the Senate 98-2 nearly one month ago, has not been brought to the floor of the House of Representatives because of process delays. The concerns which prompted these delays were addressed by the Senate, which made changes and promptly sent back to the House of Representatives. House Democrats even introduced a version (H.R. 3203) of the Senate passed legislation which resolved the procedural concerns that have delayed House action on the sanctions package.

Text of the letter below (link to PDF):

July 14, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan                                        The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker                                                                     Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                 U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol                                                   H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515                                            Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy                              The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Majority Leader                                                        Democratic Whip
U.S. House of Representatives                                 U.S. House of Representatives
H-107, The Capitol                                                   H-148, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20515                                           Washington, DC  20515                   

Dear Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Hoyer:

In light of recent statements by White House aide Sebastian Gorka that the White House is considering easing existing U.S. sanctions on Russia, I urge you to bring a legislative package of Russia sanctions up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Yesterday afternoon Gorka said the White House is considering giving back the shuttered Russian compounds in Maryland and New York because “we want to give collaboration” a chance. As you know, the U.S. government shuttered these compounds because of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It makes no sense to return these facilities in exchange for a ceasefire in southwestern Syria that has been in place for less than a week. Additionally, the U.S. has received no assurances that these properties were not used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes and President Putin is still refusing to accept responsibility for the actions Russia took to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

When the Trump Administration began signaling their intent to return these facilities, I introduced the No Russian DACHA (Diplomatic Access to Compounds Here in America) Act (H.R. 2798) to ensure Congressional oversight of decisions related to the status of these facilities. And I am pleased that the sanctions package that is stalled in the House addresses the concerns my bill raised with these facilities.

Confounding actions taken by the Administration are becoming the new normal, so Congress must maintain robust oversight to prevent concessions to Russia on sanctions relief. Now that the Senate has approved corrected legislation and it has been reintroduced in the House, there should be no excuse for delay.

It is time to take action to ensure that Russia's egregious acts of aggression do not go unchecked. We cannot allow process delays to hold up this important bill and prevent a vote in the House. I urge you to bring this bill up for a vote immediately.


Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress

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