I will focus my testimony on the congressional role, as this committee and others consider additional sanctions on Russia, in developing and overseeing the implementation of U.S. sanctions and other coercive economic instruments.
When effectively developed and employed, sanctions provide the United States with an asymmetric instrument imposing costs on our adversaries that far outweigh those borne by the U.S. and our allies. Still, there are limitations on these instruments. They should not be a primary instrument of national power in instances where they would not yield an asymmetric effect.
For both practical and constitutional reasons, Congress has a critical role to play in applying sanctions. Primacy with respect to wielding other instruments of national power – from diplomatic to military tools – is either constitutionally divided or subject to the sole discretion of the executive branch. Congress can neither direct the deployment of military personnel (although it can approve or disapprove of such deployments) nor recognize foreign states or the jurisdiction of foreign states over territory.
Conversely, the executive branch in most instances cannot refuse to implement congressionally mandated sanctions. The unique congressional role in sanctions development and implementation requires close cooperation between Congress and the executive branch in order to deploy sanctions successfully while limiting their adverse effects on the U.S. and our allies. Congress also has a critical role to play in resourcing government agencies involved in U.S. sanctions policy and ensuring the continued power of these tools.