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senate Bill S. 2537

Should the State Dept. Investigate the White House’s Decision to Freeze Security Assistance Funds to Ukraine?

Argument in favor

The State Dept. needs to investigate the White House’s decision to freeze security assistance funds to Ukraine in order to maintain the integrity of its own mission, in addition to immediately providing Ukraine with those funds. It also needs to turn over all records it has relating to the Ukraine scandal in order to help Congress fulfill its oversight function.

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10/05/2019
Yes they should investigate. Unfortunately with this corrupt administration it will be difficult. Using the term freeze is incorrect, the correct term is extort.
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10/05/2019
Yes there must be investigation- however I don’t trust Pompeo. There are so many fixers, so many sycophants, so many cronies in this trump regime- and they all obstruct justice continually. Get this entire corrupt criminal trump regime out of our government- now. trump and his corrupt criminal cronies are a SERIOUS national security threat!
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John's Opinion
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10/05/2019
Without a doubt that should be investigated. And here is the fact yesterday Donald Trump said in front of many cameras and microphones to China and the world that he thought China should investigate Biden. The president in front of everyone called on foreign country that is communist and that he’s in the middle of trade talks with to investigate his political opponents. There’s no way around it. It came out of his own mouth. If any other president had said something like this in the past people would have been shocked! That President would’ve been impeached. This president has been so crazy that it almost doesn’t have an impact. In reality it actually does; he’s called for a foreign communist government to help him win an election. It’s absolutely insane, it can’t be legal, and It demonstrates further that this president has become unhinged and is not fit for his office. With Trump saying things like he did in public there’s absolutely no doubt that he said the same thing in his talks with Ukraine backed up with the paper trail that he left. God only knows what he said to other countries and secret it’s frightening. It’s time for the Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing and save this country from sliding into disaster. Trump needs to go, Trump needs to go now this is time. This is the place in history. You will be remembered for what you did and did not to buy history. This is much bigger than party, this is the future of this country being led by a man who is out of his depth and unhinged. We in this country are in a very dangerous position. Do we really want set a precedent that other countries can come into the middle of our elections and start investigating our candidates! This is absolutely insane!
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Argument opposed

Given the numerous inquiries and investigations already underway with regard to the Ukraine matter, it’s unnecessary to pass this legislation. Congressional committees are already looking for records on the Ukraine matter, so this bill isn’t needed to ensure that the State Dept.’s records will be examined.

jimK's Opinion
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10/05/2019
The State Department leadership appears to have been complicit in assisting trump’s attempt to discredit a political opponent. Pompeo’s involvement in listening in on the Ukrainian phone call without honoring his oath of office or his patriotic duty to report it makes him complicit. Having the State Department investigate something that their leadership is complicit in would make any State Department determination highly questionable. It would be like asking the FBI investigate Barr, or like having the FBI do an extremely limited investigation of Kavanaugh solely directed by the White House Chef Counsel who had no interest in hearing from witnesses begging to be heard. So Nay. Let the House do their work, collect clear facts, present evidence clearly and completely to the public, and draw clear, un-spun fact-based conclusions. ... ... ... We are in the midst of a genuine constitutional crisis when our ‘checks and balances’ can willfully be allowed to be thwarted by an administration and Congress which puts their own self-interests before our Country’s interests - especially in preserving the intent of rule-of-law to preserve critical processes necessary for a functional democratic republic.
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Dave 's Opinion
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10/05/2019
This Bill is not necessary. It is a response to an impeachable offense for which the current occupant of the White House is being investigated. The true work to be done in the House and the Senate is to remove Trump from office.
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RjGoodman's Opinion
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10/05/2019
If these were normal times I would say yes. (Oh. wait, if these were normal times this would not be needed). It should be done. My concern is the Secretary of State is complicit in the investigation and has shown he is not above using the department to further an illegal agenda. The Justice Department should run the investigation. I believe that they are less tainted by the Administration.
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What is Senate Bill S. 2537?

This bill — the Ukraine Foreign Assistance Integrity and Accountability Act of 2019 — would express the sense of the Senate that security assistance provided to Ukraine serves vital U.S. security interests and is a critical component of efforts to counter Russian aggression and malign influence. It would also require the State Dept.’s Inspector General to investigate the White House’s decision to freeze security assistance funds to Ukraine, force the State Dept. to turn over all records relating to the Ukraine scandal, immediately obligate all existing funds for Ukraine, and impose new sanctions on Russia for its continued aggression against Ukraine.

This bill would require the Inspector General of the State Dept. to immediately investigate the issue of inappropriate interference into foreign assistance designated for Ukraine. A report of the IG’s findings would be due to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee by no later than October 25, 2019.

The IG’s report would include the following elements: 

  • An examination of when and how the State Dept. first learned that $141.5 million on foreign military assistance for Ukraine would be delayed, and the extent to which the Secretary of State and other presidential appointees were involved in deciding to suspend the assistance.
  • An assessment of the reasons the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided for blocking foreign assistance funds to Ukraine.
  • A detailed explanation of why funds to Ukraine were ultimately delayed, and who made the decision.
  • An assessment of whether the State Dept. communicated — either internally or internally — with U.S. or Ukrainian officials about efforts or requests to investigate any presidential candidates for the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

This bill would also require the State Dept. to immediately search for, collect, and produce all records related to inappropriate interference in the provision of foreign assistance to Ukraine. This would include: 

  • All records in the State Dept.’s custody or control related to foreign military assistance for Ukraine received, originating from, or created since September 1, 2018.
  • All records in the State Dept.’s custody or control related to efforts or requests to investigate any presidential candidates for the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
  • All records since September 1, 2018 regarding assistance to Ukraine, pertaining to the President’s personal lawyer, or efforts or requests to investigate any presidential candidates for the 2020 U.S. presidential election between the State Dept. and the White House, National Security Council (NSC), or Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  • All records in the State Dept.’s custody or control related to the President’s personal attorney, including: 1) communications between the State Dept. and the president’s personal attorney; 2) records relating to State Dept. efforts to support or facilitate any activities for the President’s personal attorney in the U.S., Ukraine, or elsewhere; and 3) records relating to meetings between the President’s personal attorney and Ukrainian government officials.
  • A list of State Dept. officials the President’s personal attorney briefed about his communications with any Ukrainian government officials.
  • All records in the State Dept.’s custody or control related to the President’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

This bill would require the President to immediately obligate all funds appropriated for: 1) the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative for FY2019 and 2) for Foreign Foreign Military Financing Overseas Contingency Operations for FY2018 and for the Foreign Military Financing Program for FY2019.

To counter Russian influence, this bill would authorize $250 million for each of FY2020 and FY2021 that would be allocated to the Countering Russian Influence Fund. This Fund would be used in European and Eurasian countries which the Secretary of State determines are vulnerable to malign Russian influence. It would seek to: 

  • Assist in protecting critical infrastructure and electoral mechanisms from cyberattacks.
  • Combat corruption, improve the rural of law, and otherwise strengthen independent judiciaries and prosecutors general offices.
  • Respond to the humanitarian crises and instability caused or aggravated by Russian invasions and occupations of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
  • Improve participatory legislative processes and legal education, political transparency and competition, and compliance with international obligations.
  • Build the capacity of civil society, media, and other nongovernmental organizations to counter Russian influence and propaganda by combating corruption, prioritizing access to truthful information, and operating freely in all regions.
  • Assist the Secretary of State in efforts to recognize, understand, expose, and counter propaganda and disinformation efforts by foreign governments in coordination with the relevant Assistant Secretary or Assistant Secretaries of the State Dept.

To maximize impact and eliminate duplication of efforts, the Secretary of State would coordinate efforts with the European Union and its institutions; the governments of NATO and EU countries; and international organizations and quasi-governmental funding entities that carry out programs and activities seeking to accomplish the goals of the Countering Russian Influence Fund.

This bill would instruct the Secretary of State to expand the pilot program under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to hire additional personnel within the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to develop and implement programs focused on combating corruption, improving the rule of law, and building the capacity of civil society, political parties, and independent media.

Finally, this bill would impose new sanctions on Russia for its continued aggression in eastern Ukraine. These sanctions would target Russia’s shipping sector, oligarchs, and cyber attackers.

Impact

State Dept.; Ukraine; U.S. security assistance funds to Ukraine; EU; NATO; White House; National Security Council (NSC); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); pilot program under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act; and the Secretary of State.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2537

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced this bill to require the State Dept.’s Inspector General to investigate the White House’s decision to freeze security assistance funds to Ukraine, force the State Dept. to turn over all records relating to the Ukraine scandal, immediately obligate all existing funds for Ukraine, and impose new sanctions on Russia for its continued aggression against Ukraine. In remarks on September 25, 2019, Sen. Menendez said

“President Trump has once again stood in the way of congressional efforts to support Ukraine and all of Europe in the face of Russian aggression. It is time for this Congress to stand up for its Article 1 powers. We need to act quickly to send a message to this White House and to the Kremlin.   If there is anything we have learned from President Trump, it is that lawlessness begets lawlessness. It is time for us to remind the American people and the world that the rule of law means something. We will not allow the corrupting of our national security assistance. We will not allow our relationship with Ukraine to become a political football.  And we will not let the foreign policy of the United States be corrupted for campaign purposes.”

Commenting on the White House’s summary of the July 25, 2019 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump directly pressured Zelensky to take action against Joe and Hunter Biden, Sen. Menendez added

“Today’s summary of the telephone call from the White House between [Donald Trump] and a foreign leader exposes this in black and white.  Given this White House’s lack of transparency, I have little faith that this so-called transcript reflects the totality of the conversation.  But what they did release was shocking enough. He clearly pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Vice President Biden for his own political benefit; mentioning the Attorney General or his personal lawyer six times. Using the levers of the state, the president sought to weaponize the Justice Department to pursue a personal political vendetta.”

This legislation doesn’t have any cosponsors. An attempt to pass it on the Senate floor by unanimous consent was blocked by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID).


Of NoteSen. Menendez introduced this bill in direct response to the news that the Trump administration froze nearly $400 million in Congressionally-approved foreign assistance funds days before a July 25, 2019, phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that phone call, Trump directly pressured Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. He also asked Zelensky to look into Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm, as a conspiracy theory says that a Democratic National Committee server is in Ukraine.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / yorkfoto)

AKA

Ukraine Foreign Assistance Integrity and Accountability Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to ensure that recent actions involving Ukraine are not withheld from Congress and the people of the United States, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedSeptember 24th, 2019
    Yes they should investigate. Unfortunately with this corrupt administration it will be difficult. Using the term freeze is incorrect, the correct term is extort.
    Like (84)
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    The State Department leadership appears to have been complicit in assisting trump’s attempt to discredit a political opponent. Pompeo’s involvement in listening in on the Ukrainian phone call without honoring his oath of office or his patriotic duty to report it makes him complicit. Having the State Department investigate something that their leadership is complicit in would make any State Department determination highly questionable. It would be like asking the FBI investigate Barr, or like having the FBI do an extremely limited investigation of Kavanaugh solely directed by the White House Chef Counsel who had no interest in hearing from witnesses begging to be heard. So Nay. Let the House do their work, collect clear facts, present evidence clearly and completely to the public, and draw clear, un-spun fact-based conclusions. ... ... ... We are in the midst of a genuine constitutional crisis when our ‘checks and balances’ can willfully be allowed to be thwarted by an administration and Congress which puts their own self-interests before our Country’s interests - especially in preserving the intent of rule-of-law to preserve critical processes necessary for a functional democratic republic.
    Like (82)
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    Yes there must be investigation- however I don’t trust Pompeo. There are so many fixers, so many sycophants, so many cronies in this trump regime- and they all obstruct justice continually. Get this entire corrupt criminal trump regime out of our government- now. trump and his corrupt criminal cronies are a SERIOUS national security threat!
    Like (66)
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    Share
    This Bill is not necessary. It is a response to an impeachable offense for which the current occupant of the White House is being investigated. The true work to be done in the House and the Senate is to remove Trump from office.
    Like (38)
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    Without a doubt that should be investigated. And here is the fact yesterday Donald Trump said in front of many cameras and microphones to China and the world that he thought China should investigate Biden. The president in front of everyone called on foreign country that is communist and that he’s in the middle of trade talks with to investigate his political opponents. There’s no way around it. It came out of his own mouth. If any other president had said something like this in the past people would have been shocked! That President would’ve been impeached. This president has been so crazy that it almost doesn’t have an impact. In reality it actually does; he’s called for a foreign communist government to help him win an election. It’s absolutely insane, it can’t be legal, and It demonstrates further that this president has become unhinged and is not fit for his office. With Trump saying things like he did in public there’s absolutely no doubt that he said the same thing in his talks with Ukraine backed up with the paper trail that he left. God only knows what he said to other countries and secret it’s frightening. It’s time for the Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing and save this country from sliding into disaster. Trump needs to go, Trump needs to go now this is time. This is the place in history. You will be remembered for what you did and did not to buy history. This is much bigger than party, this is the future of this country being led by a man who is out of his depth and unhinged. We in this country are in a very dangerous position. Do we really want set a precedent that other countries can come into the middle of our elections and start investigating our candidates! This is absolutely insane!
    Like (33)
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    If these were normal times I would say yes. (Oh. wait, if these were normal times this would not be needed). It should be done. My concern is the Secretary of State is complicit in the investigation and has shown he is not above using the department to further an illegal agenda. The Justice Department should run the investigation. I believe that they are less tainted by the Administration.
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    This is the clearest case for impeachment that this country has ever seen.
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    Add McConnell for his obstructionist tactics with all the bills the house has presented, as well as his Russian interference in Kentucky! Well said, Jim! It’s hard to believe the Ignorants cannot understand the SIMPLE fact that there need be no quid pro quo. Having a sitting President asking for help in a U.S. election from a foreign country is impeachable. No matter what other criminal acts of his we may find (and I’m sure there are many), that one, alone, is sufficient for impeachment. Duh?
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    Yes they do and Congress needs to do the same. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio defended tRumps investigation into corruption. So to this I say I am glad you agree with tRump about investigating corruption. Since you agree, then it is okay for the Democrats and Democratic candidates to investigate tRump for corruption, & enriching himself, investigate Ivanka tRump for all of her patents she received after President Xi had dinner at the White House, all the businesses she has in China, investigate Don Jr and Eric for all their business dealings in Indonesia, Panama, Brazil, etc. Investigate Pence and see if he is enriching himself and any dealings he has. Investigate Barr for his obstruction of justice and refusing to do any investigations into criminal referrals against tRump. Investigate Pompeo for corruption. Investigate ALL OF THEM, after all tRump, you and the entire republican party have agreed that this is okay. By the way we are keeping track of the so called corruption. Trading off Daddy’s name- Jared and Ivanka made $82 million while working in the White House last year (2018) according to fortune.com. This needs investigation!!
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    Who’s Going to Investigate the State Department??
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    of course it’s text book corruption , also investigate trump saying the whistle blower should be killed , that seems to be the thing a mob boss would say
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    No - stop wasting the government’s time. Forward this to the police, remove trump from office, try him for treason as a private citizen, let the country heal and move on from this communist bastard.
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    Of course it needs to clarified but, apparently, Trump was trying to exchange military equipment for campaign assistance during his phone call with the Ukraine president. That is illegal and over the bar for impeachment. I’m sure that’s part of the House impeachment investigation. Also his publicly calling on China to help when we are preparing to negotiate tariffs could be construed as the same. Lock him up.
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    When a SOS becomes an accessory to dunce’s treason then thumbs his nose at a congressional subpoena, what standing does he have on the international stage? Same applies to the AG and the Veep. This country cannot go an inch forward until this nightmare is concluded.
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    Impeach Trump
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    I support an investigation, but I’m not sure the State Department can do it - we have already seen that Pompeo can’t be trusted.
    Like (8)
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    Trump withheld these funds to force our allies to contribute their fair share. When others pay up, the US will too. STOP WITH THE POLITICAL BULL. An investigation must be done on Joe Biden’s corruption on having a prosecutor fired because he was investigating his son Hunter!
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    This matter is the subject of the impeachment inquiry of Trump! Let’s let our constitutional process do it’s work!! The presidential cabinet and Vice President Pence are intimately involved in the criminality in question! The State Department would only work to obstruct the present investigation by The House!!
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    Are they going to investigate Biden’s corrupt dealings with Ukraine? No, they don’t care about the truth, just another witch-hunt. Trump already told us why, and I agree. We need to stop the foreign aid, Europe needs to start doing their part.
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    Although we already know that 45 demanded that the $$$ be withheld so that he could leverage how Russia could benefit (and HE could reduce his debt to Russia) it would help the nay sayers to clearly understand what they don’t believe right now.
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