A picture of Senator Tim Johnson
Tim J.
Former Democrat SD
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    Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014

    by Former Senator Tim Johnson

    Posted on 2014-12-11

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    JOHNSON of South Dakota. Mr. President, the Banking Committee has jurisdiction over economic, trade, banking, and financial sanctions. During the last year, I have worked with my colleagues in Congress to authorize the President to impose tough sanctions targeting President Putin and his cronies, and he has enlisted our allies in that effort. We all agree that if Putin continues to intimidate the people of Ukraine he must face intensifying economic and political isolation.

    But unlike with the sanctions bill enacted earlier this year, the Foreign Relations Committee did not consult the Banking Committee on this bill prior to its markup. Even so, my staff has worked cooperatively with Foreign Relations staff in recent weeks to fix many of the most significant textual problems which would have made its implementation unworkable. Those negotiations have now progressed to a point where I have been satisfied with the changes included in the substitute amendment. While it is still not perfect and contains some provisions [[Page S6607]] which in my view are unnecessary, we have made substantial progress.

    The President has worked to impose punishing sanctions on Russia, maximizing their effect on Russia while minimizing their effect on the U.S. and Western allies. I heard personally from Secretary Lew the administration's concern that the mandatory global energy sanctions in a prior version of this bill could have driven a wedge between the U.S. and our allies. They could have ensnared potentially hundreds of our allies' businesses--including firms whose governments in Europe and elsewhere may otherwise be working with us to isolate Russia. That problem has now been resolved, and the substitute now gives the President discretion to target firms involved in these activities should he so choose. I am confident he will now be able to implement these measures in a way which is sensitive to the concerns of our allies, and which can protect innocent U.S. investors in pension funds, mutual funds, and emerging market funds which hold stock in European, Asian or other firms subject to potential sanction under the bill.

    Sanctions should offer the President flexibility to continue to work with allies to maximize pressure on Russia as its economy reels under the stress of sanctions, falling world oil prices, and a falling ruble. I support the aid to Ukraine authorized in this bill, and I support further sanctions on Russia that will not drive a wedge between the U.S. and our allies, that will protect innocent U.S. investors, and that can be implemented with minimal confusion or delay. I am glad we were able finally to reach agreement on the bill and appreciate the cooperation of my colleagues in this effort.

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