WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following joint statement Thursday after the Trump Administration announced guidance related to Russia sanctions as required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The Senators were chief authors and negotiators of the bill:
“The administration’s announcement is a step in the right direction toward holding Russia accountable for its attack on our election. By issuing guidance for the implementation of the sanctions legislation, the administration is slowly but surely carrying out the law that Congress passed overwhelmingly this summer.
“We are encouraged that the sanctions list includes many targets from the Russian defense and intelligence sectors that Congress previously identified and look forward to more closely reviewing the list to ensure that it is comprehensive. As the implementation moves forward, Congress will continue to conduct oversight of each step to ensure the administration is following both the letter and the spirit of the law—including persuading entities to stop doing business with those on the list, coordinating with European allies and other key partners, and briefing and consulting Congress on a regular basis.
“Moving forward, we will closely examine how the administration decides to define “significant transaction”. The guidance allows for notable discretion in this regard as cases arise. We will conduct focused oversight on this issue and stand ready if appropriate and necessary to apply relevant provisions of the sanctions law related to congressional review.
“We also encourage the State Department to dedicate robust staffing and resources to the implementation effort, especially in light of reports that the sanctions office has been closed, a number of its staff have resigned, and the mandate for sanctions implementation has been shifted to the Policy Planning staff, which has not traditionally played an operational role. Providing dedicated staffing and resources within the State Department will demonstrate the administration’s commitment to carrying out this vitally important law.”