02.08.18

Peters Floor Remarks Urging Trump Administration to Enforce Sanctions against Russia

Peters: “What kind of signal does that send to Vladimir Putin when the Administration puts the Kremlin and Russian plutocrats ahead of the United States Capitol and duly elected Members of Congress?”

Peters: “The Administration should use the power provided by Congress to punish Vladimir Putin, his inner circle, and those who do business with them and enrich Putin’s regime.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today to urge President Trump to enforce sanctions against Russia that were overwhelmingly passed by Congress last year as part of the Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act. Below is video and text of his remarks as prepared for delivery: 

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“Last year, Congress passed the ‘Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act’ which imposed tough new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

“There was broad bipartisan agreement on the need to put these enhanced sanctions in place. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to 2 and the House by a vote of 419 to 3. Combining both chambers, the vote was 517 to 5 in favor of enacting these sanctions. The legislation passed with a veto-proof, broad bipartisan majority.

“It can be difficult to get over 500 members of Congress to agree on anything, but imposing sanctions on Vladimir Putin's cronies and those that do business with them is a no-brainer. But, just last week, we learned that the Trump Administration is choosing not to enact these sanctions.

“On the same day that the Trump Administration argued that the sanctions are not necessary, President Trump's own CIA Director said that Russia will continue to attack our democracy, saying, and I quote: ‘This threat is not going to go away. The Russians have been at this a long time and I fully expect they'll continue to be at it.’

“In January 2017 the CIA assessed that ‘Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.’ In January 2018 the CIA director confirmed he believes that Russia will continue to assault the 2018 elections.

“Yesterday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Russia is already trying to impact the 2018 U.S. election and that it will be difficult for the United States to pre-empt it. It is clear that we have not done enough to deter Russia from interfering in our democracy. But the Trump Administration is choosing not to put in place sanctions on Putin's cronies that over 99% of Members of Congress supported. 

“I am a member of the Armed Services Committee, and earlier this week we received a briefing from Secretary of Defense Mattis on the recently completed National Defense Strategy. That Strategy identifies that Russia is seeking to discredit and subvert democratic processes around the world and shatter the NATO alliance.

“Russia is expanding and modernizing its nuclear arsenal and has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council that provides it veto power in a critical international organization. Quoting directly from the National Defense Strategy, Russia is attempting to ‘change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor.’

“Now, what does it mean, and I quote ‘to attempt to change security structures in its favor?’

“One example is Russia’s continued support of Bashar Assad in Syria, who continues to use chemical weapons against his own people. Russia uses its role on the Security Council to prevent the international community from holding Assad responsible for these crimes against humanity.

“At the same time that President Trump's Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has called Assad's use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people a tragedy and called on Russia to allow the Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning the use of chlorine gas to suffocate children, President Trump is refusing to enact sanctions to punish Russia.

“Russia presents real challenges to the security and prosperity of the United States. The purpose of economic sanctions is to impose a cost on Putin and demonstrate that the United States will punish those that threaten our country. That is why over 500 members of Congress came together to enact new sanctions.

“If the United States cannot take meaningful action by enacting sanctions passed on a bipartisan basis, how can we expect to take on the more vexing challenges? This should be easy.

“What kind of signal does that send to Vladimir Putin when the administration puts the Kremlin and Russian plutocrats ahead of the United States Capitol and duly elected Members of Congress?

“I urge President Trump to take action on behalf of the American people and follow through on the will of Congress by enacting these sanctions, which are already law. The Administration should use the power provided by Congress to punish Vladimir Putin, his inner circle, and those who do business with them and enrich Putin’s regime.