House of Representatives Passes Bill To Support Ukraine Government, Further Provoke Russia

House of Representatives Passes Bill To Support Ukraine Government, Further Provoke Russia

March 28, 2014 • 9:17AM

The U.S. House of Representatives, acting like a bunch of whores obsessed with getting the money they need to win re-election, passed by a vote of 399 to 19, a bill numbered H.R. 4278 and titled, “To support the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and for other purposes.” The “short title” is the Ukraine Support Act. (A summary of the bill’s provisions is provided below.) It is worthy of note that the last House bill, passed March 6, attacking Russia on Ukraine, had only 2 no votes.

Most of the Members voting against the bill were Republicans: Amash (Mich.), Bentivolio (Mich.), Broun (Ga.), Burgess (Tex.), DesJarlais (R.-Tenn.), Duncan (Tenn.), Gibson (N.Y.), Jones (N.C.), Labrador (Id.), Massie (Ky.), Mulvaney (S.C.), Posey (Fla.), Rohrabacher (Cal.), Rokita (Ind.), Stockman (Tex.), Yoho (Fla.), and Young (Alaska). The two Democrats voting Nay were Grayson (Fla.) and O’Rourke (Tex.).

It only takes one Congressman, of course, to start impeachment discussions.

The vote was conducted after 40 minutes of one-sided debate, with eleven Members taking turns to denounce what they variously described as Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin’s dreams of re-constituting the Soviet Empire, and the possibility of Russian aggression expanding to take over other neighbors, including Ukraine and Moldova, and possibly Estonia.

Of particular interest in all this venting, were remarks by Ed Royce (R-Cal.), House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and sponsor of the bill, who stressed in his opening and closing remarks, that the way to alter Russian behavior is by putting pressure on their economy by diminishing their income on gas exports (he said that income accounts to 52% of the Russian budget) by removing restrictions on U.S. exports of gas and oil. Curiously, there is nothing directly to that effect in the bill as published on the Library of Congress’s Thomas website, which as of this morning also reported that there had been no amendments offered to the bill. Perhaps Royce actually had in mind the provisions of President Obama’s EO 13662, issued a week ago —which was endorsed and adopted in H.R. 4278 — which Order levies sanctions against persons (including corporations) found “to operate in such sectors of the Russian Federation economy … as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel.”

Also of morbid interest was the speech of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who called for scrapping the Obama Administration’s (and, be it noted, Hillary Clinton’s) vaunted “reset” in America’s relations with Russia. He called for developing a new grand strategy which would support our allies, and confront our adversaries.

The only dissenter was Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal.), who said at the outset of his remarks that the bill would give “a bipartisan green light to re-igniting the Cold War,” and went on to criticize previous speakers’ attacks on Russia as if it were the old Soviet Union. He pointedly asserted that Vladimir Putin was not a communist building an empire, but a nationalist pursuing what he perceives to be Russia’s national interests. He pointed out that for all the weeping and wailing about Crimea, Secretary of State Kerry had testified in his subcommittee that the people of Crimea obviously wanted to be part of Russia, and that Crimea’s decision to leave Ukraine was no different than Kosovo having decided to leave Serbia; he noted pointedly that while in the case of Kosovo, we bombed Belgrade and killed a large number of people, the Crimean secession had cost one life.

Several similar bills are pending in the Senate and are receiving various amendments which must be voted. It is unknown at this moment, when final action will be taken on these bills, and whether a conference committee of the House and Senate will be needed to reconcile the different versions of the two houses’ hysteria.

On top of the yeas, and nays, there were 13 “not voting;” Amodei, Butterfield, Campbell, Coble DelBene, Gutierrez, Honda, McCarthy (NY), Gary Miller, Negrete McLeod, Rush, Schwartz, and Wenstrup.

Summary of House of Representatives’s “Ukraine Support Act”

The bill announces at the outset 15 statements of U.S. policy, including supporting Ukraine’s people’s “self-determination” (sic) and wishing them the best in fighting corruption, consolidating democracy, and achieving prosperity. It promises to help the Ukrainians prepare for their presidential election in May, and to promote democratic values and U.S. national security interests by ramping up broadcasts from Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. It promotes

“energy diversification initiatives to reduce Russian control of energy supplies to Ukraine and other European countries, including United States promotion of increased natural gas exports and energy efficiency,”
and condemns Russia’s “armed intervention” and “illegal referendum” in Crimea. It calls on the Ukrainian government “to continue to respect and protect the rights of all ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities” and on all Ukrainian people, in all regions including Crimea, to respect the legitimate government authorities.

Last, it states that U.S. policy is “to honor and abide by it commitments undertaken pursuant to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty” of 1949. Regarding the latter, Article 5 says that NATO members consider an attack on one member to be an attack on all of them, and they will assist the attacked member(s) as deemed necessary,
“including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

Ukraine, of course, is not a member of NATO, though most of its neighbors, such as Moldova (mentioned several times in the House debate yesterday as a target of future Russian aggression), are members. To state the obvious, eastern Europe is not geographically part of “the North Atlantic area,” though perhaps that’s a small matter for those planning a global showdown.

The specific provisions of the bill include

* supporting “democracy and civil society” in Ukraine ($50 million authorized);

* stabilizing its economy with “structural reforms” including “cutting the massive natural gas subsidies,” “reducing the bloated public sector,” “maintaining a market-determined exchange rate,” etc.;

* authorizing increased funding for propaganda broadcasting;

* encouraging investment in Ukraine;

* authorizing funds for reforming police forces;

* enhancing security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO members;

* providing security assistance to Ukraine as a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace, in the form of non-lethal assistance articles from Defense Department stocks;

* helping recovery of Ukrainian assets stolen by former President Yanukovych and his family and members of his government;

* continuing the sanctions announced by the President in his series of Executive Orders this month;

* imposing additional sanctions “with respect to those individuals within and outside of the [Russian Government] whom the President determines wield significant influence over the formation and implementation of Russian foreign policy,” particularly regarding Ukraine; and

* expediting reporting and sanctions about persons transferring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons materials to Iran, North Korea, or Syria.

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