Congress Returns - Legislative Update

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Congress Returns - Legislative Update

Congress has returned to the remaining time of the First Session of the 117th Congress and has a lot of essential business to attend to in a very short time period.

I thought it might be useful to provide a brief report on some of the matters of significance to Ukraine and U.S.-Ukraine relations. In doing so I note that for now over 100 years Congress has always been the branch of our government which has been the greatest and most consistent supporter of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. This remains the case.

You will find that I lead with authorization and appropriation measures as they are a priority at the end of the fiscal year.

It is important to let Members know (a) of the need to support Ukraine as Ukraine continues to fight for its and our national security interests against what has been categorized as our (the United States’) greatest military threat; and (b) how much we appreciate the Congressional leadership in support for Ukraine.

LEGISLATION

House of Representatives           

H.R.4350 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022

The legislation was reported to the full House on September 10 by the House Committee on Armed Services.

The Committee notes that it “continues to place high priority on deterring Russian aggressive action on NATO's Eastern flank and in empowering our allies in the region. Saying that since the illegal seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, Russia has supported continued conflict in Ukraine's Donbas province, massed and maintained armed forces on Ukraine's Eastern borders, harassed NATO allies and activities in the Black Sea…” and thus, Section 1233 of this legislation (if enacted) would modify and extend Security Assistance to Ukraine.  It would authorize (authorize not appropriate) $300 million to the Secretary of Defense to provide security assistance and intelligence support to the Government of Ukraine, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State.

In its Report which accompanies the legislation the Committee “directs the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the service secretaries, to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than March 15, 2022, on the Department's strategy for enhancing the United States forward presence on NATO's eastern periphery, to include assessments of possibilities for potential force structure enhancements at a minimum in Romania, Poland, and the Baltic states, along with options for enhanced deterrent posture in Ukraine. The report shall include,

(1) an assessment of the impact on deterrence of increased forward presence;

(2) an assessment of the impact on relationships with allies and partners in the region that would result from increased forward presence;

(3) a comparative assessments of the costs and benefits of increased permanent forces versus rotational forces;

(4) an assessment of the synergies that might be implemented via additional presence and participation of other allied and partner forces;

(5) the current and potential state of host nation contributions to collective defense and any synergies with potential enhanced U.S. posture;

(6) the impact of forward positioned forces versus rotational forces on mitigating contested logistics risks;

(7) the feasibility of deploying forces to train and advise in their defense against active Russian-backed aggression; and

(8) any other information the Secretary deems relevant.”

The Committee’s Report also calls for “Options for Assisting the Government of Ukraine in Addressing Integrated Air and Missile Defense Gaps”. There have been several articles referencing this language including today in Politico and linking the language to the Iron Dome system. While I cannot comment definitively, committee staff - House and Senate - have suggested getting Iron Dome to Ukraine would face significant hurdles including contractual.

Nevertheless here I do note that the National Security Task Force of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) noting that while Ukraine’s air force cannot be modernized overnight the effort must begin included in this year’s Priority Recommendations for U.S. Assistance to Ukraine “Assistance in building layered air defense in Ukraine … including:

-         Modern aircraft comparable to what other European countries are putting in the air …

-         Training with aircraft mentioned should begin now.

-         Transfer to Ukraine new Stinger short-range air defense missiles with training package

-         Air Command-and-Control systems

-         For mid and high altitude defense Ukraine needs U.S. or NATO compatible systems.”

I believe our Recommendations should help in the review of those options and it is certainly the case that addressing the air defenses of Ukraine needs should be a priority. Building Ukraine’s air force cannot be done overnight – it will take years – but the effort must begin – now.

 

H.R.4432 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2022

The legislation was reported to the full House on July 15 by the House Committee on Appropriations.

I simply set out here Sections 8150 & 8151 which have to do with Ukraine:

Sec. 8150. Of the amounts appropriated in this Act under the heading “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide”, for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, $275,000,000, of which $137,500,000 to remain available until September 30, 2023 shall be for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative: Provided, That such funds shall be available to the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training; equipment; lethal assistance (my emphasis – RAM); logistics support, supplies and services; sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and for replacement of any weapons or articles provided to the Government of Ukraine from the inventory of the United States: Provided further, That the Secretary of Defense shall, not less than 15 days prior to obligating funds made available in this section, notify the congressional defense committees in writing of the details of any such obligation: Provided further, That the Secretary of Defense shall, not more than 60 days after such notification is made, inform such committees if such funds have not been obligated and the reasons therefor: Provided further, That the United States may accept equipment procured using funds made available in this section in this or prior Acts that was transferred to the security forces of Ukraine and returned by such forces to the United States: Provided further, That equipment procured using funds made available in this section in this or prior Acts, and not yet transferred to the military or National Security Forces of Ukraine or returned by such forces to the United States, may be treated as stocks of the Department of Defense upon written notification to the congressional defense committees: Provided further, That the Secretary of Defense shall provide quarterly reports to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate on the use and status of funds made available in this section.

Sec. 8151. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of Defense, or any other official or officer of the Department of Defense, to enter into a contract, memorandum of understanding, or cooperative agreement with, or make a grant to, or provide a loan or loan guarantee to Rosoboronexport or any subsidiary of Rosoboronexport.

(b) The Secretary of Defense may waive the limitation in subsection (a) if the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, determines that it is in the vital national security interest of the United States to do so, and certifies in writing to the congressional defense committees that—

(1) Rosoboronexport has ceased the transfer of lethal military equipment to, and the maintenance of existing lethal military equipment for, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic;

(2) the armed forces of the Russian Federation have withdrawn from Crimea, other than armed forces present on military bases subject to agreements in force between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Ukraine; and

(3) agents of the Russian Federation have ceased taking active measures to destabilize the control of the Government of Ukraine over eastern Ukraine.

 

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations 2022

The House bill is H.R. 4373 which was passed by the House of Representatives and received in the Senate on July 29, 2021.

The report here is from H. Rept. 117-84 which accompanied H.R. 4373:

“The Committee continues its focus on supporting programs that are critical to the national security interests of the United States and remains committed to the security of our allies and partners…. The Committee recommendation includes continued support for critical allies such as Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Colombia, and India, as well as Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic allies who are on the front line in opposition to renewed Russian aggression.”

“SECURITY PROGRAMS … Ukrainian Service. - - The Committee supports continuation of the work of the Ukrainian service of VOA, which is carried by 29 national and regional television stations in Ukraine.

“Global Programs

“Independent media. - - The Committee recommends funding for programs and activities that globally strengthen free and open media … The Committee encourages USAID and the Department of State to strengthen independent media programs, especially where independent information sources are increasingly under internal and external threat, including … Ukraine.”

“ASSISTANCE FOR EUROPE, EURASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA … Ukraine 260,000 (Million – RAM)”

“FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING PROGRAM …Ukraine 125,00 (Million – RAM …

“Ukraine.--The Committee recommendation includes not less than $481,500,000 for assistance for Ukraine to be allocated according to the following table, subject to section 7019 of this Act:

UKRAINE

[Budget authority in thousands of dollars]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Account                         Budget  Authority

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia......            260,000

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement..           30,000

Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and                        15,000

Related Programs...................................

International Military Education and Training........                   2,900

Foreign Military Financing Program..................                   125,000

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The bill includes additional assistance for Ukraine under Global Health Programs.

The Committee is pleased with the Department of State and USAID's efforts to strengthen cooperation with Ukraine on veterans' issues including bolstering psychosocial, health, and reintegration programs. The Committee directs the Department of State to facilitate exchanges between Ukrainian American diasporic groups with veteran care experience and Ukrainian medical veteran affairs professionals.

The Committee remains concerned with the fight against corruption in Ukraine and views Ukraine's Parliament as a vital institution to make needed reforms and provide critical constituent services. The Committee understands that such reforms require technical expertise and non-partisan legislative support and support past State Department and USAID efforts to support the Rada. The Committee directs the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to prioritize the creation of a non-partisan legislative office to conduct research and analysis in support of the Rada.

The Committee is disturbed by Russia's continued cyberattacks on Ukraine's critical infrastructure systems and use of such attacks to weaken Ukraine's resolve. The Committee recognizes that Ukraine's artificial intelligence strategy is important to its national security, and that the United States can benefit from Ukrainian innovation and cooperation in this area. The Committee directs the State Department and USAID to cooperate with Ukraine on the implementation of its artificial intelligence national strategy to enhance Ukraine's resilience to Russian cyber-attacks.

The Committee continues to support efforts to boost economic opportunity for smallholder Ukrainian farmers, medium sized efficient producers, and rural women through microfinance support. The Committee is concerned that financing rates for these producers are at cripplingly high levels, which hampers Ukraine's agricultural development and economic security. The Committee directs the Department of State and USAID to develop microfinancing programs to increase productivity and marketability of smallholder agricultural products. The Committee also urges the Department of State and USAID to increase support for expansion of greenhouse accessibility to help increase the growing season for rural women.

Section 7047 (Countering Russian Influence and Aggression) includes language modified from the prior year regarding programs to counter Russian influence and aggression.

Subsection (b) prohibits funds in this Act for the central government of a country that the Secretary of State determines and reports has taken affirmative steps to support the Russian annexation of Crimea or other territory in Ukraine. The Secretary may waive the prohibition if it is in the national interest.”

 

H.R. 4346 – Legislative Branch Appropriations 2022

Passed by the House of Representatives and received in the Senate on July 29, 2021

The report accompanying the bill – H.Rept. 117-80 includes: The Committee recommends $6,000,000 for salaries and expenses of the Open World Leadership Center Trust Fund. The Committee supports the name change to Congressional Office for International Leadership (COIL).

Grant Writer: The Committee is pleased with the hiring of a grant writer to help secure additional funds for COIL's mission in Ukraine and throughout Eurasia to counterbalance Kremlin disinformation.

 

Rept. 117-98 – Accompanying H.R. 4549 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations 2022 

H.R. 4549 was reported from the House Committee on Appropriations to the Full House of Representatives on July 20, 2021 (I note that this is from the Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) Co-Chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus.

From H. Rept. 117-98 – “The Committee is supportive of the Department's continued work in energy cooperation with Ukraine, including providing technical assistance in developing winter action plans and the current effort to assist with a national energy resiliency plan. The Committee encourages additional work in areas of importance to both countries, including technical assistance support for Ukrainian national energy security strategies and development of low carbon sources of energy.

Senate National Defense Authorization Act 2022 

The Senate Committee on Armed Services completed its mark-up of the NDAA on July 22, 2021. However, the legislation does not as yet have a bill number and only a summary is publicly available.

That summary includes:

“Europe and the Russian Federation · Extends the limitation on military cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation. · Prohibits the use of funds for any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea. · Extends the authority for the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to provide security assistance and intelligence support to military and other security forces of the Government of Ukraine. · Extends the authority for the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to provide multilateral or regional training for countries in Eastern Europe. · Requires the Secretary of Defense to report on the challenges the U.S. military faces in moving forces across Europe, including regulatory roadblocks and Chinese investments in critical infrastructure such as port facilities. · Expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States’ commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is ironclad and emphasizes the importance of expanding cooperation on shared security challenges. · Expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States should continue to prioritize support for the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as they build and invest in critical security areas.”

 

Additional Legislation

In some cases here I note the sponsors and co-sponsors

Unlike the Authorization and Appropriations Bill sponsored by Committee Chairs

The sponsorship of these bills help to advise us on some of those actively supporting Ukraine

 

House of Representatives:

Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act

 Because this is to take place next week I start with the House Committee on Rules which is scheduled to meet next Monday (September 20) to decide which amendments will be made in order (allowed to be offered) during the House consideration of H.R.4350 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 – discussed above.

One amendment that will be considered by the Rules Committee has been introduced by Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to impose sanctions on any entity responsible for the planning, construction or operation of Nord Stream 2. A group of bipartisan lawmakers is seeking to undo U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to waive sanctions on the Russian-owned operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in a last-ditch effort to stop it from pumping gas to Europe. It would authorize new mandatory sanctions to foreign entities and individuals responsible for the planning, construction and operation of the pipeline.

Radio Free Europe Story - https://www.rferl.org/a/nord-stream-sanctions-united-states/31460890.html

 

H.R. 922 – Crimean Annexation Non-Recognition Act

Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA) has introduced this legislation in previous Congresses as well. The bill, if enacted, would prohibit any federal agency from taking action or extending any assistance that recognizes or implies recognition of Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, its airspace, or its territorial waters.

This year it was reported out by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 19. 2021, no action has been taken by the full House. Without doing any specific research on this I note, based upon personal experience and years of observation, that the Administration and the previous Administrations surely oppose the enactment of such legislation and have urged that it not move further. The legislation reflects the stated position of the United States government but the Executive Branch does not like to have its hands tied so that if it determines it would like to change policy it would have to go back to Congress. I am not stating my view, only noting what routinely happens in the Executive-Legislative Branch give-and-take.

I do note that Mr. Connelly has the following co-sponsors:

Steve Chabot (R-OH)

Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Brendan Boyle (D-PA)

Don Bacon (R-NE)

David Cicilline (D-RI)

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)

Jim Costa (D-CA)

Andy Levin (D-MI)

Dina Titus (D-NV)

August Pfluger (R-TX)

Rick Larsen (WA)

Michael Turner (R-OH)

Richard Hudson (R-NC)

William Keating (D-MA)

Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Joe Wilson (R-NC)

Abigail Davis Spanberger (D-VA)

 

H.R. 496 – Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act

The bill, sponsored by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) was reported out by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 21, 2021.

This bill directs the President, when determining whether Russia is a country of particular concern for religious freedom under certain federal laws, to consider incidents occurring in the parts of Ukraine controlled by Russia or Russia-affiliated non-state groups. (The United States may take certain actions, such as withdrawing development assistance, against a country of particular concern for religious freedom.)

Co-Sponsors:

Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Steve Cohen (D-TN)

Richard Hudson (R-NC)

Gwen Moore (D-WI)

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

Andy Harris (R-MD)

Christopher Smith (R-NJ)

Abigail Davis Spanberger (D-VA)

Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)

Marc Veasey (D-TX)

Mike Quigley (D-Il)

Lisa McClain (R-MI)

Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

Dina Titus (D-NV)

Peter Meijer (R-MI)

Scott Perry (R-PA)

Brad Sherman (D-CA)

David Cicilline (D-RI)

Ronny Jackson (R-TX)

I note here that there have been numerous measures introduced in Congress relating to Nord Stream 2 and opposition thereto I include the following as a representative.

 

Res. 426 – was introduced on May 20, 2021 expressing opposition to removing sanctions with respect to the Nord Stream II pipeline was introduced by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) for himself and:

Mike Gallagher (R-WI)

Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)

Bob Gibbs (R-OH)

Ann Wagner (R-MO)

John Joyce (PA)

Troy Balderson (R-OH)

David Rouzer (R-NC)

Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

Ron Estes (R-KS)

Andy Harris (R-MD)

Beth Van Duyne(R-TX)

Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Yvette Herrell (R-NM)

Mike Bost (Il)

Neal Dunn (R-FL)

Bob Latta (R-OH)

Dan Meuer (R-PA)

 

H.R. 3144 - Restraining Russian Imperialism Act

This legislation was introduced on May 12, 2021 by Congressman Mark Green (R-TN) for himself and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (D-CA) to require the imposition of sanctions with respect to Russia until Russian troops are removed from the Donbas region of Ukraine.

 

Senate

814 - Ukraine Security Partnership Act of 2021

The bill, sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) was reported out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 26, 2021 but has not been taken up by the full Senate.

The bill contains provisions related to U.S. support for Ukraine. From FY2022-FY2026, the Department of State is authorized to (1) provide grants and loans to Ukraine for acquiring U.S. defense equipment and services through the Foreign Military Financing program, and (2) provide training for Ukraine's military through the International Military Education and Training program. During this period, Ukraine shall have priority access to excess U.S. defense articles.

During this period, the State Department may also engage in certain activities in Ukraine to (1) strengthen cybersecurity and intellectual property enforcement, (2) provide support and training for certain economic reforms and the privatization of state-owned enterprises, (3) combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law, (4) respond to humanitarian crises caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, (5) improve participatory legislative processes, and (6) build civil society and independent media capacity.

The State Department shall report to Congress a strategy on (1) using diplomacy to support Ukraine, and (2) encouraging other countries to donate excess defense equipment to Ukraine. The President shall report to Congress a determination as to whether certain vessels and entities, including the project company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, meet the criteria to be subject to sanctions. (The Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline project that would bring natural gas from Russia to Europe.)

Co-Sponsors:

Menendez (D-NJ)

Portman (R-OH)

Murphy (D-CT)

Barrasso (R-WY)

Shaheen (D-NH)

Graham (R-SC)

Durbin (D-Ill)

 

S.1310 - Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act 

Introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) in the Senate on April 22, 2021 this is a companion measure to H.R. 496 (above)

Senator Shaheen co-sponsored,

This bill directs the President, when determining whether Russia is a country of particular concern for religious freedom under certain federal laws, to consider incidents occurring in the parts of Ukraine controlled by Russia or Russia-affiliated non-state groups. (The United States may take certain actions, such as withdrawing development assistance, against a country of particular concern for religious freedom.)

 

Nominations

It seems appropriate to mention several things:

United States Ambassador to Ukraine – Obviously no nomination has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Here I quote FOUN’s National Security Task Force in it’s Priority Recommendations For U.S. Assistance to Ukraine 2021, “A solid, high-profile person should be nominated and confirmed to fill the far too long vacant position of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. A fundamental element to a ‘strong commitment’ to the country is to have a prominent ambassador in place.’”

Broader concerns regarding the nomination and confirmation of the Administration’s foreign policy officials – Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been holding up Department of State and Department of the Treasury nominees until the Biden administration imposes congressionally mandated sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. How long these holds will remain is unknown. The Senator did release his holds on several Department of State nominees yesterday. In addition, there now are other threats to hold such nominations over differences in the handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

One nomination of particular concern is that of Michael Carpenter to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (rank of Ambassador). Carpenter’s is an excellent nomination and we support him as strongly as possible, have communicated with numerous Senate offices – including Senator Cruz’s – to express our support. We are told there is no personal objection to Michael and, in fact Cruz seeing his as an excellent nomination, it is a larger political dynamic that is at play.

We hope and urge that Michael’s nomination be “released” as soon as possible for a vote.