WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Idaho's Senate delegation and the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday again urged the full U.S. Senate to immediately take up and pass legislation called the Never Yielding Europe's Territory Act -- or the "NYET Act."
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) asked for unanimous consent of passage of his "NYET Act" legislation. According to a news release, Risch has the support of 38 other U.S. Senators and asks for Democrats to support the legislation.
The bill would impose sanctions on major Russian banks, secondary sanctions on banks that continue business with sanctioned Russian banks, and sanctions against "Putin's cronies, enablers and major banks," according to a news release emailed from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations after Risch introduced the bill.
"The reason we are on the floor today is it's not enough," Risch said Tuesday on the floor of the United States Senate. "You said I came down here to criticize the president. I did not criticize the president in anything I said. I applaud the action he's taken. I want him to take more. We have a convoy that's 40 miles long that's headed to Kyiv. That convoy started out after all of these sanctions that the president put in place had taken effect. The banks, as you know, shut down, at least temporarily in Russia. They've closed their stock market. They've done a number of things, but it's not enough. We need to toughen up."
Sen. Robert Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) said the NYET Act makes banks have to choose between doing business with the U.S. or with Russia, but they cannot do both. Risch said the sanctions in that bill go further than the sanctions President Joe Biden has announced during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"As you know, I've talked and talked and talked with the administration to try to get them to embrace secondary sanctions, because it's the secondary sanctions that are truly going to shut the thing down, lock, stock and barrel," Risch said. "And Putin's going to have to answer to his people if they get shut down."
The NYET Act also would provide $500 million in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine, including $250 million in emergency funding. $100 million of that emergency funding would be for "emergency lethal assistance for critical capabilities like air defense, anti-armor, and anti-ship capabilities."
In addition, the legislation would create a new Ukraine Resistance Fund to help Ukraine resist attempts to occupy or subjugate any new territory Russia seizes; authorize a new Lend-Lease authority for Ukraine; and expedite congressional review of arms sales and security assistance to Ukraine.
"The question you have to ask is how long can the Ukrainians hold out? We want them to hold out. There are provisions in the act, as you know, that provide additional help for the Ukrainians themselves," Risch said. "There isn't a person in this body that doesn't want to do all we can possibly do to preserve the lives of the Ukranians that are perishing every day – women, children, civilians. And we need to do all we can. Putin is not going to be deterred until we do all that we can. And that comes to… completely shutting down the economy in Russia. This bill does that."
According to Risch's office, the NYET Act aims to counter Russian malign influence and aggression throughout Europe by doubling funding for U.S. military exercises in Europe; creating a new State Department Foreign Military Financing program for Eastern Europe "to help European allies strengthen their own defensive capabilities and incentivize greater burden-sharing;" boost funding for State Department efforts to counter Russian disinformation, including the Global Engagement Center; and expand broadcasting by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
"We have an obligation to do this as Americans, as the strongest country in the world," Risch said. "We can't stand by and watch this slaughter that is happening. And when that convoy gets there, is going to be even worse. The NYET Act is something we can actually do to do more than what the president has done. And I'll say it – I said it before and I'll say it again – I commend the president for what he's done. But we also, as the first branch of government, have a responsibility. We believe this bill exercises that responsibility."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Pennsylvania) said the bill threatens American alliances with Europe. Murphy also said the NYET Act is a partisan bill that Murphy believes will not pass.
The NYET Act was not taken up for a vote Tuesday on the U.S. Senate floor.
The complete text of the NYET Act is available here (PDF document).
Note that according to the news release from the Senate Committee On Foreign Relations, Risch's comments have been slightly edited for clarity.
Risch's full comments on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday can be viewed below:
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