Team Maryland Introduces Legislation to Prevent President from Reopening Russian Spy Compounds
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04) and members of the Maryland Delegation, including Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger and John P. Sarbanes (all D-MD), introduced legislation to prohibit the use of funds to return certain property and interests in property to the Government of the Russian Federation. In December of 2016, the Obama Administration – after concluding that the Russian government meddled in U.S. elections and in response to repeated harassment of U.S. diplomats by Russian security services – closed two Russian diplomatic compounds located within the states of Maryland and New York, and ejected 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States. However, the Trump Administration has expressed interest in return the compounds to the Russian government. Congressman Brown’s bill (H.R. 3527) would ensure the President Trump cannot use federal dollars to reopen the facilities, and would build on the new Russia sanctions legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress earlier this week.
“Our top intelligence agencies have all agreed that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. Since taking office, President Trump and his Administration have failed to send a strong and coordinated response to the meddling in our democracy,” said Congressman Brown. “The state of Maryland should not be a base for foreign adversaries looking to spy on the United States and undermine our national security. As questions continue to linger on whether members of the Trump team colluded with the Kremlin, Congress must ensure the Administration does not advance President Putin’s agenda. It goes against the interests of every American to reverse punishment on Russia and reopen these compounds.”
“Giving these compounds back to Russia so that they can potentially spy on us from within our own country makes absolutely no sense,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “The Russians are not our friends and we should not do anything that makes Putin’s job easier, especially with our own tax dollars.”
“In Maryland and across the country, many Americans are asking, ‘Whose side is President Trump on?’” said Congressman Sarbanes, Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. “Until President Trump releases his tax returns, until he truly separates himself from his businesses and until special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 election, many people will continue to question the president’s priorities. This bill is an important step toward holding President Trump accountable and ensuring that he puts the American people and our country first.”
H.R. 3364 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act - which passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the President’s signature or veto - included a provision that could make the return of the Maryland and New York compound subject to Congressional Review.
Co-Sponsors of the legislation include:
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02) and Rep. John P. Sarbanes (MD-03).