On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5094, Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5094 was introduced on April 28, 2016 by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition, to the Committees on Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means. The Committee on Foreign Affairs ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on July 14, 2016.
H.R. 5094 would codify existing sanctions intended to deter aggression against the Ukraine and require them to stay in effect until the President certifies to Congress that Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea has been restored. Additionally, the bill would require the Department of State to develop a strategy to counter Russian dis-information and propaganda.
The bill further encourages NATO adoption of a policy that opposes the transfer of defense articles and services to Russia while Russia continues to occupy Crimea.
According to the bill sponsor, “This bill links any sanctions relief to Russia fulfilling its obligations under the Minsk Agreement as well as making Crimea-related sanctions permanent so long as the Russian occupation there continues. It also tightens sanctions enforcement with a new anti-evasion framework and requires regular reports on banks illegally controlling Ukrainian assets—particularly Russian banks in Crimea. Additionally, this bill tries to drive new private-sector investment to Ukraine, clamps down on Russia buying defense equipment or services from our NATO allies, targets human rights abuses in Russian-occupied areas, and calls for a strategy to push back against Russian propaganda.”
In February, 2014, the Moscow-backed government of Ukraine collapsed amid protests stemming from the regime’s refusal to pursue closer relations with the European Union (EU). Shortly thereafter, Russia responded by seizing and annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region, among other acts of aggression.
The United States strongly condemned the action and, in coordination with the EU, imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses. The U.S. has since pursued a policy of non-recognition regarding the Russian annexation of Crimea.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), implementing H.R. 5094 would cost less than $500,000 a year and total $1 million over the 2017-2021 period, with such spending subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
To the extent that sanctions imposed under H.R. 5094 would affect more entities and individuals, the bill would increase the number of people who would be denied visas by the Secretary of State and would be subject to civil or criminal penalties. Most visa fees are retained by the Department of State and spent without further appropriation, but some fees are deposited in the Treasury as revenues. Penalties also are recorded as revenues and a portion of those penalties can be spent without further appropriation. CBO estimates that implementing those sanction provisions would affect very few additional people and, thus, have insignificant effects on both revenues and direct spending. Because enacting H.R. 5094 would affect direct spending and revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures apply; however, those effects would not be significant over the 2017-2026 period.
For questions or further information please contact Jason Grassie with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-3021.