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Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, please excuse my voice today, but I did want to rise in support of this legislation, and also to associate myself with the observations made by my colleague, Congressman Berman, and certainly with Congressman Burton.

The legislation here that was originally enacted in 1974, Congressman Howard Berman is quite correct, this, during the Cold War, did play a very key role with respect to immigration. But today, that is long over. And with Russia joining the WTO in August, we have a problem here in the United States, and that is, Russia, in doing so, made tariff cuts for every country in the world except the United States. This bill would correct that. And of course, without this legislation, exporters here in the United States would lose.

I've never viewed Jackson-Vanik as an impediment to Russian relations today. But neither do I see it as very helpful in pressing Russia on issues like Iran or their conduct toward Syria. Russian opposition level leaders, however, and Russian civil society, and the Russian press, what free press remains in Russia today, really support this legislation.

I think what this legislation intends is sort of a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia, based on the rule of law, based on human rights. That's the hope. It includes the Sergei Magnitsky legislation that came out of the Foreign Affairs Committee, of which I'm an original cosponsor, and I do think we owe a debt of gratitude to Chairman Ros-Lehtinen for her determination to have that provision in the legislation.

I think if we reflect on the words of the Russian opposition in their Parliament, one said recently, this provision is very pro-Russian. It helps defend us in Russia from criminals. It helps defend us from criminals who kill our citizens, who steal our money and then hide it abroad. And that's the point. That's what we're trying to do in that provision.

And this bill, liberalizing trade while at the same time staying true to human rights, should have passed months ago. Sometimes we have a debate with the administration, in this particular case it was over the question of sort of quiet diplomacy with Russia, or whether we were going to speak out forcefully on these human rights provisions. I do not prefer silence on issues such as this.

I think that the systemic corruption we're seeing today in Moscow, and the abuse of power we're seeing from the regime, really demand inclusion of these provisions. And I think, thankfully, a bipartisan group in Congress, including Howard Berman, including Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and others, stuck it out, came together on this and insured the inclusion in this bill of these provisions in memory of Sergei Magnitsky, in order to take a stand. And I think that is the right course. I encourage all my colleagues to pass this legislation.

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