January 24, 2024

Whitehouse’s Bipartisan REPO for Ukrainians Act Clears Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jim Risch (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today applauded the Foreign Relations Committee’s approval of their Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act, legislation to provide additional assistance to Ukraine using assets confiscated from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and other sovereign assets of the Russian Federation.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars of Russian sovereign assets have been frozen – including billions here in the U.S. – since the start of Russia’s murderous invasion of its peaceful neighbor.  So when we help Ukraine rebuild after it beats back the Russian invasion, seizing and repurposing the Putin regime’s frozen funds is the right place to start,” said Whitehouse.  “It’s been a long road, and I’m thankful for Ranking Member Risch’s strong partnership, and for Chairman Cardin’s hard work to iron out final language and provide a big bipartisan majority in the Foreign Relations Committee.  I hope we can get this bill through Congress and to the President’s desk in short order.”

“Today’s committee passage of my REPO Act was long-overdue.  For almost two years, Russia has committed unspeakable crimes in its illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  Russia should pay to rebuild Ukraine, and U.S. leadership is essential to spur action” said Risch.  “The REPO Act provides that leadership by giving the president authority to seize Russian sovereign assets frozen in the U.S. and transfer them to Ukraine for its reconstruction.  It also directs the president to work with other partners and allies to take similar action.  It is critical the international community rises to this occasion and holds Russia accountable.  This bill is an important step.”

The REPO for Ukrainians Act passed the Foreign Relations Committee by a 20 to 1 vote.  The legislation:

  • Ensures Putin foots the bill for the damage caused by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
  • Gives the president the authority to confiscate Russian sovereign assets that have been frozen in the United States and transfer them to assist in Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.
  • Prohibits the release of funds to sanctioned Russian entities until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and agrees to provide compensation for harm caused by its unprovoked war. 
  • Instructs the president to work with allies and partners to establish an international compensation mechanism to transfer confiscated or frozen Russian sovereign assets to assist Ukraine.
  • Gives the State Department additional resources to work with partners and allies abroad toward the goal of confiscation of additional Russian sovereign assets in other countries.

“The significant international step today is the bill registered in the United States on the confiscation and transfer to our country of the assets of the Russian state – a terrorist state – as reparations.  I thank the U.S. Senators for the strong bipartisan support of this issue of justice for Ukraine and all victims of Russian terror,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.

“This timely bipartisan bill signals that the United States and its partners need an economic counteroffensive to support Ukraine as it begins its military counteroffensive.  The aim should be to transfer Russian official assets to a fund for Ukraine, in accordance with both international and domestic law.  This move is strategically sound, morally right, and politically timely,” said Robert B. Zoellick, Former President of the World Bank, U.S. Trade Representative, and Deputy Secretary of State.

“The REPO Act is both overdue and critically important.  The most important step the US can take to advance international economic governance is mobilizing seized Russian assets for Ukraine.  It will support Ukraine and Europe, stand up for freedom and assure that even with Russian aggression global economic challenges can be met,” said Lawrence H. Summers, Former Secretary of the Treasury.

“The Russian invasion has devastated Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, flooded towns and villages, decimated the economy and agriculture.  Razom’s staff, volunteers, and partners have been working so hard to remediate the humanitarian disaster, but in the end, Russia must be the one to pay to rebuild what it has destroyed.  I applaud Senators Risch and Whitehouse and Representatives McCaul and Kaptur for their leadership in introducing the REPO Act, which will allow the mobilization of Russian state assets to help with reconstruction.  I urge our elected officials to waste no time in passing this crucial bill,” said Dora Chomiak, CEO of Razom for Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), as the representative organization of the 2+ million Ukrainian American community, supports the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity & Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act.  Recognizing the horrific devastation and innocent lives lost in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, REPO codifies laws that would benefit Ukraine to receive compensation by the aggressor state.  It is important to realize that as an aggressor state, Russia must be held accountable for its acts of aggression and genocide against the Ukrainian people.  Initiatives such as REPO for Ukrainians Act is an opportunity to assist Ukraine recover from the horrors of Russia’s aggression and sets a precedent for other authoritarian regimes that accountability for illegal actions will remain a policy objective,” said the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

“I wholeheartedly endorse the seizure of frozen assets from the country I once called home in defense of American interests and in pursuit of Ukraine’s victory.  RDI maintains that President Biden has the undisputed authority to transfer Russian assets held in the United States—as clearly explained in an independent study, ‘Making Putin Pay,’ which RDI commissioned from leading legal scholar Laurence Tribe last year.  However, given both the urgency of this question and the executive branch’s reluctance to move decisively, I commend your leadership with legislative action.  Your work may well push the administration to take the actions that this moment requires,” said Garry Kasparov, Chairman of Renew Democracy Initiative.

In addition to Whitehouse and Risch, the REPO Act is cosponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Katie Britt (R-AL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Peter Welch (D-VT), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Todd Young (R-IN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

Whitehouse has long led the charge to strengthen America’s hand against international corruption and kleptocracy, and aid Ukraine in their fight against the unjust Russian invasion.  In late 2022, the Senator passed bipartisan legislation to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.  In 2022, Whitehouse secured $67 million in the Ukraine supplemental appropriations bill for the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture program to enforce sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed on Russia.

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

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