Biden urged to confiscate Russian assets
The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding bill on Wednesday, calling on President Joe Biden to impound the assets of wealthy Russian individuals believed to have ties to the Kremlin. Under the plan, confiscated capital would go toward supporting Ukraine.
Named the Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act, the bill was backed by 417 lawmakers, with eight voting against it.
The document urges the US president to “confiscate any property or accounts subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, valued over $2,000,000, and belonging to Russian energy companies or to foreign persons whose wealth is derived in part through corruption linked to or political support for the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), one of the lawmakers behind the bill, explained that under the legislation US authorities could seize luxury villas, yachts and airplanes belonging to wealthy Russian individuals and companies that have been sanctioned by the U.S.
According to the text, the assets should then be “held, used, administered, liquidated, or sold,” with President Biden using the funds “for the benefit of the people of Ukraine.” The money could be earmarked for “post-conflict reconstruction in Ukraine, humanitarian assistance,” as well as “assistance provided to the security forces of the government of Ukraine.” On top of that the confiscated assets could be used to “support refugees and refugee resettlement in neighboring countries and in the United States,” and fund “technology items and services to ensure the free flow of information to the Ukrainian people in Ukraine,” including what was described as “items to counter internet censorship by Russian authorities.”
The bill calls for the establishment of an interagency working group, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the helm, tasked with confiscating assets belonging to foreign individuals who are believed to have links to the Kremlin.
Among the eight lawmakers who did not support the legislation were representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties, known for their radical liberal or conservative views. The group included representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as well as Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas).
An identical bill bearing the same name was introduced in the Senate back in March.
The latest piece of legislation passed by the House of Representatives came a day after Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a congressional hearing that he “would support legislation that would allow some of that money to go directly to Ukraine.”