May 29, 2021 | The Hill

Is Biden trying to avoid congressional review of Russia sanctions?

May 29, 2021 | The Hill

Is Biden trying to avoid congressional review of Russia sanctions?

Excerpt

Last month, the White House unveiled a sweeping new executive order (EO) authorizing a wide range of sanctions against Russia. While laudable as a product and effort to expand the Russia sanctions regime, the EO contains numerous provisions that duplicate existing, longstanding sanctions. These redundant provisions raise concerns that the Biden administration may be attempting to avoid aggressive congressional oversight codified in Russia sanctions legislation and EOs, as any executive orders signed after the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) became law in August 2017 are not subject to its congressional review provision.

The new EO gives the U.S. Treasury Department the ability to designate anyone who operates or has operated in the “technology sector or the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy” or in other sectors of the Russian economy that Treasury may later decide to identify. This is expansive authority that effectively allows the United States to sanction anyone operating in any sector of the Russian economy.

Yet the authorities for such broad-reaching sanctions already exist within both statute and previous executive orders. For example, EO 13661, which President Obama signed in March 2014, imposes sanctions on individuals who are Russian officials or who operate in the Russian arms sector — nearly verbatim to the language in the new EO. Similarly, EO 13662, also signed in March 2014, authorizes the secretary of the Treasury to designate anyone who operates “in such sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel.”

Matthew Zweig, a former congressional staffer and State Department official, is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (@FDD), where Eric B. Lorber, a former senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the United States Department of the Treasury, is the senior director of the Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP). Follow them on Twitter @MatthewZweig1 and @ELforeignpolicy. FDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on national security and foreign policy.

Read in The Hill

Issues:

Russia Sanctions and Illicit Finance