The U.S. Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chair Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) that would authorize lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine and impose stricter sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The House passed the legislation late Thursday, which was the last voting session day before Gerlach leaves office after six terms. And the legislation was the final bill passed by the House in the two-year session.
The measure now goes to the President and would become law with his signature.
"I am extremely pleased the House and Senate worked together on an aid package that holds President Putin and Russian officials accountable for propping up separatists in eastern Ukraine that who have wreaked havoc and claimed the lives of more than 4,000 civilians and military personnel in eastern Ukraine," Gerlach said.
The legislation on its way to the President (H.R. 5859) is identical to a bill sponsored by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and ranking member Bob Corker (R-TN). Because the bill included loan guarantee provisions and thus, involved raising revenues, a new bill had to be introduced and passed in the House.
“Sens. Corker and Menendez kept the spotlight on the need for a bold response to Putin's aggression in Ukraine, and I am grateful that they made sending this bill to the President a priority before this legislative session ended," Gerlach added. "The bipartisan effort in the House and Senate sends an unmistakable message to Vladimir Putin and the entire world that the United States fully supports the people of Ukraine in their desire to remain an independent, democratic nation.
"I also appreciate the relentless efforts of my colleagues here in the House, including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce and Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), to ensure Ukraine has the defense articles, services and training and intelligence information needed to defend its territory and maintain its sovereignty. I truly believe an independent, democratic Ukraine enhances the security of the United States and offers greater economic opportunity for citizens in both countries.”
Gerlach first spoke out against Russian aggression as soon as Putin started his campaign of intimidation and military aggression in March.
In July, he introduced legislation along with members of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus that called for providing defensive military aid to Ukraine.
H.R. 5190, the proposed Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, sought to reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability.
In September, Gerlach led the effort in the House to pass a resolution expressing support for Ukraine as it works to strengthen its democratic system of governance and fend off Russian aggression. The Gerlach resolution, H. Res. 726, passed the House by a unanimous voice vote.
Gerlachvisited Ukraine as part of a delegation led by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a member of the escort committee that welcomed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the House for an address to a joint session of Congress.
As media reports continued to swirl Friday that the White House has held internal discussions about potential sanctions against Israel, U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) called on the President to swiftly and publicly refute any notion that our closest ally in the Middle East would face unilateral punishment.
"Israel is a valued partner and the brightest beacon for democracy and respect for basic human rights in a region ravaged by violence, intolerance and extremism," Gerlach said. "Imposing sanctions against Israel would be a grave mistake. Such an egregious error in judgment would embolden those who want Israel wiped off the map and radical terrorists plotting every day to attack the United States and our Western allies. That's why it's crucial for the President to stop this nonsense. I hope he speaks out immediately and dispels the troubling rumors about sanctioning a key ally."
Media outlets in Israel and Washington have reported that senior White House officials discussed sanctions a few weeks ago in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allowing new housing in East Jerusalem. Israel has made claims on swaths of East Jerusalem captured in the 1967 Six Day War while Palestinians want the territory to be part of a future independent state.
Following Netanyahu's visit to the United States in October, the Administration reportedly said new housing in East Jerusalem would distance Israel from "even its closest allies."
On Friday, several news organizations reported that Administration officials refused to respond to questions about whether sanctions were being considered.
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I wanted to update constituents about the status of our offices in the closing days of the 113th Congress. As most of you know by now, I did not seek another term and will be leaving office very shortly. While the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session during the first two weeks of December, the transition out of office has already started.
First, today is moving day in our Washington, DC office. To make room for all of the Members-elect during the 114th Congress, we'll be shutting down my office in Rayburn House Office Building Room 2442 and relocating to a small space in the basement of the Capitol with one phone and one desk. Any constituents who need to reach our office today should contact either my Exton Office at 610.594.1415 or Wyomissing Office at 610.376.7630. Also, in order to begin the transition to the incoming Member, all of our offices will close for good at the end of the business day on Friday, December 19.
I will continue to work to represent the interests of the residents of Pennsylvania's Sixth Congressional District until my final day in office, I simply may no longer be able to provide certain constituent services due to limited resources. In the event that you may need help or assistance with a federal agency, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Social Security Administration, I would also encourage you to contact the offices of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senators, Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, Jr., whose staff will also be able to provide you with prompt assistance.
If you would like to begin this process by reaching out directly to either U.S. Senator, please do so by utilizing the contact information provided below:
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey
1150 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Suite 101
Allentown, PA 18103
U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr.
22 S. Third Street, Suite 6A
Harrisburg, PA 17101
It has been a tremendous honor serving you in Congress during the last 12 years. I appreciate all of your support and kind words as I make this transition from Congress.Read More
Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-06) said President Obama should immediately impose a temporary ban on travel into the U.S. by all non-U.S. citizens from countries in West Africa at the center of the rapidly evolving Ebola crisis.
Gerlach issued the following statement after a second nurse from a Dallas hospital was being treated for Ebola and another 48 health care workers who cared for an Ebola patient from Liberia who died last week at that hospital were being monitored for the virus:
"We have a duty as leaders to do everything within our power to protect the health and safety of Americans and that includes immediately suspending all travel into the U.S. from countries hardest hit by Ebola. Most major U.S. airlines and several foreign carriers already have halted service from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone due to the spread of this lethal virus. We know that the first two confirmed cases of Ebola contracted here on U.S. soil can be traced to nurses who cared for a Liberian national who entered our country on a commercial flight from West Africa. So it defies common sense to allow unrestricted travel from that part of the world. Two weeks ago the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pledged that federal authorities would "stop Ebola in its tracks." Stopping travelers from countries where Ebola is rampant would seem to be a necessary step for achieving that goal."
Gerlach also noted that Congress has been proactive in providing adequate funding to federal agencies responsible for coordinating efforts to combat Ebola and other public health threats.
According to the House Appropriations Committee, Congress has provided the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services $58 million for Ebola treatment.
That funding includes:
•$15 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track down Ebola patient contacts here and abroad, increase surveillance, and monitor disease progression
•$25 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop and manufacture an Ebola vaccine
•$18 million for National Institutes of Health to speed up existing Ebola research
It's also important to note that the Fiscal Year 2015 Continuing Resolution enacted earlier this year provided an additional $88 million in resources to protect the public. Specifically, $58 million was set aside in that Continuing Resolution to accelerate Ebola vaccine and drug development.
The Department of Defense also was authorized to reprogram $1.06 billion to respond rapidly to the evolving Ebola outbreak. That will allow DOD to access $1 billion for airlifts, supplies, logistics, training, and an AFRICOM Joint Task Force to coordinate response efforts. Another $60 million will go toward monitoring and tracking Ebola and other diseases in support of biosecurity concerns.
Steps also have been taken to ensure adequate resources are available for humanitarian aid in areas hardest hit by this lethal virus, Gerlach said.
Congress has appropriated a total of $64 million for USAID funding. Nearly half of those funds -- or $30 million-- will be allocated for health services, logistics, training and relief commodities.
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Gerlach added that crumbling support within the European business community for stiffer sanctions imposed just one month ago should be a signal to President Obama that the U.S. must lead by example and step up efforts to combat Russian aggression in Ukraine.
"Putin has demonstrated that he won't stop fomenting violence and unrest in eastern Ukraine without a stronger U.S. response" Gerlach said. "That stronger response must include direct, lethal military aid that will allow Ukrainians to defend their territory and restore peace," Gerlach said. "During his visit to Washington last month, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made it clear that he's not asking for U.S. troops. All his country needs at this critical moment is the same level of military and intelligence capabilities Putin has been supplying to the separatists. I do not see any compelling reason why Congress and President Obama have yet to honor President Poroshenko's request. It's about time we stand up for a democratic ally under siege by a ruthless neighbor."
Gerlach and his colleagues in the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus unveiled bipartisan legislation in July to provide a clear and specific process for sending direct, defensive military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to strengthen its democracy and prevent separatist violence and aggression within its borders.
H.R. 5190, the proposed Ukraine Security Assistance Act, would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country.
This legislation would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary defensive assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty.
In addition, Gerlach led the effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution expressing support for Ukraine as it works to strengthen its democratic system of governance and fend off Russian aggression.
The Gerlach resolution, H.Res. 726, passed the House by a unanimous voice vote. Watch Gerlach's floor remarks here.
A federal lawmaker who represents part of Berks County was among a small group who welcomed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Washington, D.C. Thursday and escorted him to his speech before a joint session of Congress.
U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, co-chair of the bipartisan Ukrainian Caucus, said being part of the escort committee gave him an opportunity to reconnect with Poroshenko, whom he'd met during a visit to Ukraine last year.
Poroshenko addressed Congress and met with President Barack Obama at the White House to ask for U.S. military assistance as his government faces Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. He urged the U.S. to supply his troops with defensive military equipment as well as weapons.
Obama has said he would only support non-lethal military aid to Ukraine but has condemned Russia's backing of the rebels.
Gerlach, a Chester County Republican, said he was happy to hear Poroshenko make the case that his country is on its way to growing into a strong democracy but needs military help to remain independent.
"I think that's an important message for him to send to Congress," he said.
Gerlach authored a House resolution urging support for Ukraine that passed unanimously Wednesday.
He also introduced a bill that would provide defensive military aid - which includes items from night-vision goggles to anti-tank weapons - to the country and give Obama the OK to work with Ukraine to address its military, intelligence and security needs.
"I think there is a growing sense that we need to be helping doing that," he said.
Gerlach said Congress can and should show support for aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia but it's ultimately the president's call. He added that despite a supposed cease-fire, the Ukrainian military is still suffering casualties.
2442 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
A lifelong Pennsylvania resident, Jim Gerlach grew up in Ellwood City – a town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College and a Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Chester Springs, Chester County with his wife, Karen, and they have three children and three step-children.
Jim has served the citizens of Southeastern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. His distinguished career began in 1990 with the first of two terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which was followed by two terms in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Jim is serving his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing portions of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties. In December 2010, he earned a spot on the influential House Ways and Means Committee. Jim serves on the Ways and Means Subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue.
One of his biggest legislative accomplishments was creating a much-needed veterans cemetery here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The bill Jim authored was signed into law by the President on Veterans Day in 2003, and the cemetery opened in Bucks County in 2009.
National publications, including National Journal and Roll Call, have recognized Jim’s strong record as an independent voice for his constituents. And no member of Congress has had to fight closer contests each election cycle. The 6th District was ranked as the most competitive district in the nation between 2002 and 2008, according to a University of Minnesota survey.
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