House Continues to Wrestle with Response to Russia

Twenty-two House Democrats, led by Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), introduced new legislation Thursday aimed at responding to a range of Russian aggressions against the US and its allies.

The bill would require “a comprehensive strategy to counter threats by the Russian Federation.” Specifically, House Democrats are asking the Department of Defense to “increase conventional precision strike weapon stockpiles” in Europe and improve the US military’s ability to “operate in a GPS-denied or GPS-degraded environment.”

The bill also would require US European Command to establish an “interagency Russian Information Group to counter Russian information operations,” an approach favored by EUCOM commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in March.

In response to the Russian violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the bill also calls for new sanctions, including “expanding asset freezes and travel bans, prohibiting financial transactions, [and] prohibiting government-to-government contracts.”

Smith said in a statement he the legislation is important because of what he called “President Trump’s unwillingness [to] take the danger seriously.”

Also on Thursday, the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee moderated the language of its proposed legislation to punish Russia for violating the INF Treaty at its markup session for the 2018 NDAA.

The draft legislation had called for “a program of record to develop a dual-capable, road-mobile, ground-launched cruise missile system with a range of between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.” The subcommittee adopted an amendment to change “dual-capable” to “conventional.” The amendment was proposed by ranking member Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and was approved by voice vote in a batch with several other amendments.