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Waters Opening Statement at March Full Committee Markup of Bipartisan Bills to Punish Russia and Support Ukraine

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hybrid markup.

Today, this Committee comes together in the first of a series of markups on legislation to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his unprovoked and illegal invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a threat to democracy, an affront to humanity, and a rejection of the sovereignty of nations.

With President Biden’s strong leadership, the United States and our allies moved immediately to respond to Putin’s atrocities. The swift, harsh, and global sanctions that are at the core of that response have brought the Russian financial system to the brink of collapse. The Russian ruble has lost half of its value in the past month. The Kremlin’s credit has reached junk status, and Russia’s stock market has lost 90 percent of its value.

Committee Democrats and Republicans are also working together in a bipartisan effort by marking up five bills to further isolate Putin and his enablers, and to support President Zelenskyy and the brave people of Ukraine.

This Committee will be marking up a bill led by Representative Garcia, the “Ukraine Comprehensive Debt Repayment Relief Act,” or H.R. 7081. This bill will direct the Treasury to use its influence at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, other multilateral development banks, and with private creditors to press for the suspension of all debt owed by Ukraine. This year alone, Ukraine owes $4.6 billion in debt payments even as the country is under siege from an invading army.

Let’s also not forget that Belarus is aiding and abetting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by serving as a staging ground for Russia’s attacks. In response to this aggression, the Administration has imposed sanctions on both countries, and we need our financial institutions, including their subsidiaries, both here and abroad, to fully comply. So, we will mark up a bill led by Representative Sherman, the “Russia and Belarus Financial Sanctions Act,” or H.R. 7066, to clarify that foreign subsidiaries must comply with American sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

I am also pleased that we are marking up my bill, the “Nowhere to Hide Oligarchs’ Assets Act,” or H.R 7080. Right now, Putin and his wealthy friends own mansions, yachts, paintings, cars, and more right here in the United States, and they are using shell companies and other money laundering techniques to hide their money, avoid scrutiny, and evade our sanctions. My bill will help FinCEN and its law enforcement partners to detect this kind of evasion and stop it.

Additionally, I am pleased to mark up two bills led by our Republican colleagues to keep the pressure on Russia and Belarus, including the “Isolate Russian Government Officials Act,” or H.R. 6891, led by Representative Wagner, which would seek to exclude Russian government officials from the G-20, Financial Stability Board, and other international standard-setting and economic cooperation bodies. We will also mark up the “Russia and Belarus SDR Exchange Prohibition Act,” H.R. 6899, led by Representative Hill, to deprive Russia and Belarus from seeking to convert their holdings of Special Drawing Rights for hard currency.

Today, Democrats and Republicans on this Committee are responding to President Zelenskyy’s address to Congress and impassioned appeal for the U.S. to do more to support Ukraine by considering every tool at our disposal to bolster President Biden’s efforts to force Putin to end this unjustifiable war. We will not stop until Russia retreats from its cruel assault on the Ukrainian people.

So, I would like to thank the Ranking Member for working with me on these important bills and our Committee Members on both sides of the aisle for their efforts. I am very pleased that we are united in this historic moment to stand up for democracy, and help ensure that the U.S. remains the leader of this free world and a defender of peace across the globe.


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