Week ending June 9, 2017
S.722 – Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017
The bill defines and increases sanction on Iran related to its ballistic missile program and human rights behavior. Amended, the bill also brings further sanction on Russia and reaffirms the US committeemen to NATO Article 5 that pledges support for any NATO member under attack.
“S. 722 would require the President to impose sanctions on people and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and weapons proliferation activities, as well as on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. In addition, it would authorize the President to impose sanctions on people and entities responsible for human rights violations in Iran. Sanctions imposed under the bill would include freezing assets that fall under U.S. jurisdiction, prohibiting transactions with sanctioned persons, and denying entry into the United States. Finally, S. 722 would require periodic reports to the Congress on the implementation of the bill and related matters.” – cbo
Enacting S. 722 would increase both the number of people who would be denied visas by the Secretary of State and the number who would be subject to civil or criminal penalties for violating sanctions. Most visa fees are retained by the Department of State and spent without further appropriation, but some fees are deposited in the Treasury as revenues. Penalties also are recorded as revenues an d a portion of those penalties can be spent without further appropriation. However, significant sanctions on Iran already exist under current law and CBO estimates that those provisions would affect very few people and thus have insignificant effects on both revenues and direct spending.
‘Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence shall jointly develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.’
The strategy will include ‘near- and long-term United States objectives, plans, and means for countering Iran’s destabilizing activities, including identification of countries that share the objective of countering Iran’s destabilizing activities’ and ‘interdiction of Iranian lethal arms bound for groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations and any support for Syrian President Assad.’
“The President shall impose asset blocking and U.S. exclusion sanctions against any person that materially contributes to: (1) Iran’s ballistic missile or weapons of mass destruction programs, or (2) the sale or transfer to Iran of specified military equipment or the provision of related technical or financial assistance.” – crs
‘The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall exclude from the United States, any person subject to subsection (a) that is an alien.’
The President shall impose against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated foreign persons sanctions with respect to blocking property of, and prohibiting transactions with, foreign persons who commit or support terrorism.
“The President may impose asset blocking sanctions against any person identified by the State Department as responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against certain individuals in Iran.” –crs
“The bill requires specified existing sanctions against persons for materially contributing to Iran’s ballistic missile program or for supporting Iran’s acts of international terrorism to continue until 90 days after the President certifies that such activities ceased during the immediately preceding three-month period.” –crs
Russian sanctions –
Continuing and increasing numerous sanctions imposed by President Obama the law would now include that the president should engage to the fullest extent possible with partner governments with regard to closing loopholes, including the allowance of extended prepayment for the delivery of goods and commodities and other loopholes, in multilateral and unilateral restrictive measures against the Russian Federation, with the aim of maximizing alignment of those measures; and should increase efforts to vigorously enforce compliance with sanctions in place.
Congressional review is required in detail and as usually the case in such bill there are waiver mechanism the president can take but must make the case to Congress when offering sanctions relief.
The prohibition on access to the properties of the Government of the Russian Federation located in Maryland and New York that Obama ordered vacated on December 29, 2016 stands. Any changes proposed by the White House must gain congressional approval.
The amendment covers sanctions on those responsible for human right violations, pipeline building in Russia, investments in privatization of Russian assets, transactions with Russian intelligence operations, transferring arms to Syria,
Those sanctions include blocking of property, exclusion from the US, blocking involvement with the Export Import Bank.
“The United States, consistent with the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur, supports the policy known as the “Stimson Doctrine” and thus does not recognize territorial changes effected by force, including the illegal invasions and occupations of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, and Transnistria”
Cyber Attacks –
Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on funds provided by, or funds the use of which was directed by, the Government of the Russian Federation or any Russian person with the intention of influencing the outcome of any election or campaign in any country in Europe or Eurasia during the preceding year,
There are authorized to be appropriated for the Countering Russian Influence Fund $250,000,000 for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
Amounts in the Countering Russian Influence Fund shall be used to effectively implement, prioritized in the following order and subject to the availability of funds, the following goals:
To assist in protecting critical infrastructure and electoral mechanisms from cyberattacks in the following countries:
Countries that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union that the Secretary of State determines–
are vulnerable to influence by the Russian Federation; and lack the economic capability to effectively respond to aggression by the Russian Federation without the support of the United States.
Countries that are participating in the enlargement process of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Kosovo, Serbia, and Ukraine.
(2) To combat corruption, improve the rule of law, and otherwise strengthen independent judiciaries and prosecutors general offices in the countries described in paragraph (1). (3) To respond to the humanitarian crises and instability caused or aggravated by the invasions and occupations of Georgia and Ukraine by the Russian Federation.(4) To improve participatory legislative processes and legal education, political transparency and competition, and compliance with international obligations in the countries
NATO Article 5
The amendment expresses full support for NATO Article 5 agreeing that all NATO members will step up and assist any other NATO member under attack.
(Full text of S. 722 at congress.gov)
Sponsor: Sen. Corker, Bob [R-TN] (Introduced 03/23/2017)
StatusPassed Senate /
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
On Passage: Final Passage. Yeas and nays ordered. The bill, as amended, passed by a vote of 98–2.
Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed. Yeas and nays ordered. The Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed was agreed to by a vote of 92-7
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: Implementing S. 722 would increase administrative costs at the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury. Based on limited information from the Administration and the costs of implementing similar legislation, CBO estimates that under S. 722 the departments would require additional appropriations of $2 million a year. In total, and incorporating the effects of inflation, CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost $10 million over the 2018-2022 period, assuming appropriation of those estimated amounts.
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Pay-as-you-go procedures apply to this legislation because it would affect direct spending and revenues.
Regulatory and Other Impact: S. 722 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.
If the sanctions imposed by the President under the bill prevent U.S. entities from gaining access to property or from engaging in transactions that would otherwise be permitted under current law, the bill would impose private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA. The cost of the mandate would be any forgone income directly related to the newly prohibited actions or blocked property. Because of the broad scope of existing U.S. sanctions involving Iran, CBO expects the number of entities and individuals in the United States that could be affected by the legislation would be small. Further, CBO expects that the loss of income from any incremental restrictions in the bill would be relatively low. Therefore, CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the mandates would fall below the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($156 million in 2017, adjusted annually for inflation).
Dynamic Scoring: CBO estimates that enacting S. 722 would not in crease net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: Data not available
Duplication of programs: Data not available
Direct Rule-Making: Data not available
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
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