On Thursday, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 offered by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and cosponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services, passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The Sherman-Waters amendment would prohibit U.S. persons from trading in new Russian sovereign debt within 90 days of enactment, sending a strong signal to Russia, as well as to the markets, that the U.S. resolve to punish Russia for election interference remains strong and, if repeated, will likely trigger an even greater U.S. response.
“This amendment sends a clear signal to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin that they are not off the hook, and that Russia will face real consequences for interfering with U.S. elections,” said Chairwoman Waters. “Meddling in our elections will not be tolerated.”
“To date, our sanctions have been illusory,” said Congressman Sherman. “A few individuals have been told they can’t get visas to visit the United States, they will never see Disneyland. This amendment provides real, serious sanctions on the Russian state.”
The amendment would lift the prohibition if, within 120 days of a future federal election, the DNI determines that Russia did not interfere in the election, and Congress passes a joint resolution certifying such a determination. If following a federal election, the DNI does not affirmatively determine in its report to Congress that Russia did not interfere or if Congress fails to pass a joint resolution affirming Russia did not interfere, the prohibition would automatically go back into effect, if it had been previously lifted.
The amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
A similar provision banning U.S. investors from purchasing new Russian sovereign debt was included in a Waters-led Russia sanctions discussion draft discussed at a Financial Services Committee hearing in May. The Waters measure cited the Mueller report’s conclusion that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systemic fashion.” The bill also referenced the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies assessed in January 2017 with a high degree of confidence that Russian President Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. Presidential election in order to promote Russia’s strategic interests and weaken and divide the United States. The U.S. intelligence community expects that Moscow will seek to conduct similar malign influence efforts in the 2020 presidential elections.
In January, Chairwoman Waters and other Committee Chairs sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, calling on the Trump Administration to explain the easing of sanctions on businesses tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
Also, in January, Chairwoman Waters applauded House passage of H.J. Res. 30, a Resolution of Disapproval to reverse the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision to lift sanctions on companies owned by Deripaska.
In April of this year, at a Full Committee hearing, Waters pressed Mnuchin to provide the Committee with complete answers regarding the Treasury Department’s actions to delist companies associated with Deripaska.