Rand Paul Pitches Easing Sanctions on Russian Lawmakers

Kentucky Republican crafts amendment to lift sanctions if Russia lifts sanctions on members of Congress

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul is proposing a deal with Russia to lift sanctions on members of parliament. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Rand Paul is upping the ante in his push to end sanctions against Russian parliamentary officials.

The Kentucky Republican has drafted an amendment that would terminate sanctions against members of the Russian Federal Assembly if the Russians do likewise.

The proposal, which would require the lifting of sanctions against members of the U.S. Congress to have practical effect, is expected to be offered as an amendment to a bill designed to help stop atocities against civilians in Syria.

“Senator Rand Paul believes that dialogue and diplomacy are vitally important to global peace. It is important to remember that the United States and Russia hold more then 90% of all nuclear weapons,” a Paul spokesman said. “While there is plenty we might disagree on, we won’t be able to resolve those difference if the two sides aren’t engaging in dialogue.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee met Wednesday to consider the Syria legislation and a number of other foreign affairs-related bills.

“IF the Government of the Russian Federation terminates the application of sanctions with respect to all Members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives, the President shall reciprocally terminate the application of sanctions with respect to members of the Federal Assembly,” the amendment states, a copy of which was obtained by Roll Call ahead of the Foreign Relations Committee markup.

The committee resoundingly defeated the amendment, failing to attract the support of anyone else in the committee. Still, Paul defended it to the end, saying his amendment offered an “escape valve” to worsening relations with Russia.

The Daily Beast first reported on Paul’s legislative intentions on Tuesday.

Paul has been an outlier on the Senate committee promoting a somewhat softer and more conciliatory approach to Russia, that has included questioning the wisdom of allowing the NATO footprint to expand closer to Russian soil, including to Macedonia.

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.