House passes series of measures hitting Russia, Putin
13 March 2019, 16:41
The House passed a series of bills on Tuesday meant to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his country’s actions, including a measure condemning the Russian leader and his government for their alleged roles in covering up the 2015 assassination of Putin political opponent Boris Nemtsov.
The package of legislation, all aimed at adding scrutiny on the Russian government, largely passed by voice vote.
The bill concerning Nemtsov’s assassination overwhelmingly passed the House, with only one lawmaker — Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — dissenting.
“It’s been four years since his death, but there’s been no proper investigation of his assassination and the cover-up and zero accountability for those responsible — that’s certainly an outrage,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. “This resolution condemns the Kremlin’s systematic targeting of its political opponents and calls on the administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for Nemtsov’s murder and cover-up.”
Nemtsov, a member of the opposition party who had eyed challenging Putin for the presidency in 2018, was shot and killed in 2015.
Five Chechen men have been charged in his death, but Tuesday’s resolution — introduced by Engel and Foreign Affairs ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) — claims that Russian officials have prevented others responsible for his murder to be charged.
A bill condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea also easily passed the House, with 427 lawmakers supporting the act. Again only Massie voted against it.
Under the legislation, led by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), federal departments and agencies are barred from recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which sparked international outrage in 2014.
The House also passed legislation sponsored by Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) that would instruct the director of National Intelligence to submit three comprehensive assessments on the “political leadership of the Russian Federation” to provide information on potential action against NATO members, potential responses to the expanded role of the U.S. and NATO countries in eastern Europe and potential areas of weakness the Russian government could attempt to capitalize on.
The Trump White House has faced calls from Congress to take more action against Russia, particularly after the nation was determined to have interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Some critics have argued that the president is not as tough on Russia as he should be, but the administration has implemented strict sanctions against Russia and some of its oligarchs since President Trump took office.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has also indicted 12 Russian military officers for the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee, as well as charging several Russian entities with interfering in the 2016 election.