House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has spent a good portion of this week calling for Russia to be placed on the State Department's "Sponsors of Terror" listing.
And Pelosi just might get her wish, if Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ultimately has no objections to the proposal.
According to Politico, 99 U.S. senators have agreed to fast-track a resolution requesting that Secretary of State Antony Blinken place Russia on the country's "terror" list — which currently includes Cuba, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
If all 100 senators agree to it, the resolution would then be made available for a Senate floor vote, shortly thereafter.
Of course, such a resolution would be non-binding in terms of forcing the State Department's hand. At the same time, it would send a clear message to Blinken, on behalf of a Senate that typically votes along party lines.
On Thursday, Pelosi characterized the addition as "long overdue," while adding, "I've been advocating it for four months, at least," according to Politico.
The secretary of state office typically maintains authority over "sponsors of terrorism" designations.
However, that didn't stop Pelosi from saying Congress would alternatively change Russia's "terror" status.
Pelosi has a prominent ally in Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who's also the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair.
"Showing congressional support for it is a powerful way to try to get us to where we want to be," said Menendez, according to Politico.
The State Department doesn't have a clear-cut definition of what constitutes a sponsor-of-terror country, compared to a rival nation that merely challenges the United States on militaristic or economic fronts.
Here's an excerpt from the State Department website, in terms of what might qualify as a "terror" candidate:
"Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws:"
- Section 1754(c) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.
- Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act.
- Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
"Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions," the State Department website stated.
On Thursday, Pelosi denounced Russia for its ongoing war with Ukraine. She also chastised Russian President Vladimir Putin for allowing the harming of Ukrainian civilians, namely women and children.
"These are not just the soldiers raping girls; this is an order — an attempt to demoralize the Ukrainian people," Pelosi said.
Putting a human face on Pelosi's cause, the House Speaker invited Olena Zalenska, Ukraine's first lady, to address Congress on Wednesday.
During her impassioned speech, Zalenska showed images of Ukrainian children and families who have been killed, injured, or displaced by Russia war.
"Help us to stop this terror against Ukrainians," Zalenska said.
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