Lawmakers look to keep companies from doing business with both Kremlin and US

EXCLUSIVE — A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate will introduce a bill on Wednesday that would bar any country doing business with the Kremlin from getting a U.S. government contract.

Reps. Mike Waltz (R-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), chairwoman of the Ukraine Caucus, will introduce the bipartisan Keeping Russia’s Energy and Military Liable for Invading its Neighbors Act, while Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) will do the same in the Senate. The legislation is the latest attempt from Congress to make the Russian government pay for its war in Ukraine.

“If you’re doing business directly with the Putin regime, with Russian government contracts, then you can no longer do business with the U.S. government,” Waltz told the Washington Examiner. “The bottom line, it’s a time for choosing. These companies have to make a choice. Are they going to continue to only focus on their balance sheet or bottom line as Putin commits war crime and atrocity after war crime and atrocity? Are they going to do the right thing?”

The legislation isn’t aimed at a specific company, he said, adding, “It’s really the message to all companies who are doing business in Russia, if they’re doing business with the Russian government. You cannot and will not be authorized to do business with the Defense Department.”

The Florida lawmaker predicted that the legislation will be included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act instead of as a stand-alone bill, though he urged Democrats to pursue a solo version, and he noted that the White House could implement such a ban without congressional approval.

The legislation includes some exceptions, such as for humanitarian assistance or other disaster relief for the Russian people or if such a deal is “vital to the national security interests of the United States,” the bill, which the Washington Examiner obtained, reads.

Both the Biden administration and Congress have proposed and implemented various sanctions and retaliatory actions against Russia for its war in Ukraine that commenced on Feb. 24. They have targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin, his allies, and the banking infrastructure in Russia and banned the use of Russian oil.

Last year, Waltz and Scott were among a bipartisan group of lawmakers that introduced a similar bill but regarding the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

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