Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, joined by lead cosponsors Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, and Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, introduced the “No Russia Exemptions for Oil Production Act” (the No REX Act), which prohibits the Trump Administration from providing special licenses to companies to engage in certain activities related to oil exploration and drilling in Russia.
“Congress needs to lay down the law and shut the door on any opportunity for Trump to get around the sanctions on Russia to enrich Putin and Exxon,” Ranking Member Waters said.
“Trump and his associates – who I call the Kremlin Klan - are not to be trusted,” Ranking Member Waters continued. “I believe that this is all about the money. How else do you explain all of the actions and backroom conversations people associated with Trump have engaged in to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Russia?”
“In his time as the head of Exxon, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson personally negotiated a multibillion-dollar deal with Russia to drill for oil in the Arctic. Now Exxon comes calling for a waiver to fulfill that deal and rake in the dollars with the Kremlin. Not on my watch.”
In 2014, in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the U.S. instituted sanctions, and banned companies from oil deals in the Russian Arctic shelf, the Black Sea, and Siberia by restricting the export of technology that Russia would need in order to be able to drill for oil in those areas.
Last week, it was reported that ExxonMobil is seeking a waiver from the U.S. sanctions on Russia in order to resume its landmark venture with Russian-state owned oil giant Rosneft to explore and develop potentially massive oil reserves in Russia's Arctic waters and the Black Sea. The deal would benefit Russia, and reap ExxonMobil billions in profits if a waiver were granted or if the sanctions are lifted.
After a public outcry and warnings from Ranking Member Waters, the Trump Administration was compelled to make a blanket denial on issuing waivers for drilling in Russia. However, the waiver process is not public, and the Trump Administration currently has discretion to issue waivers at any time. The No REX Act would remove that discretion.
Read the full bill here.