H. R. 6930 Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act

Text - H.R.6930 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

  1. The President should take all constitutional steps to seize and confiscate assets under the jurisdiction of the United States of foreign persons whose wealth is derived in part through corruption linked to or political support for the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin and with respect to which the President has imposed sanctions.

(2) The President, by means of instructions, licenses, or other regulations as may be promulgated and in a manner consistent with due process of law, should 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 and with respect to which the President has imposed sanctions.

(3) All rights, title, and interest in any property so confiscated should vest, upon the terms directed by the President, in such agency or person as the President may designate from time to time, and upon such terms and conditions as the President may prescribe.

(4) Such interest or property should be held, used, administered, liquidated, or sold, by such agency or person and such designated agency or person should perform any and all acts incident to the accomplishment or furtherance of these purposes.

So, what do you think. Should the POTUS be able to seize assets from Russians to support Ukrainians?
The House in a bipartisan effort past it 417-8. Here’s the 8 that voted against it and why. Spoilered so you can think about your answer.

8 votes against

Lawmakers on left, right explain ‘no’ votes on Russia-Ukraine bill | The Hill

Some of the most liberal and conservative members of the House voted against the bill: Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas).

Asked for explanation on his vote, Massie told The Hill that “giving Joe Biden unilateral authority to seize property in the United States without any due process sets a dangerous and disturbing precedent.”

Tlaib appears to have a similar mindset. Denzel McCampbell, a spokesperson for Tlaib’s office, told The Hill that while the congresswoman supports sanctioning Russian oligarchs in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and seizing assets acquired through corruption, “she does oppose allowing our government to unilaterally seize people’s assets with no legal process.”

McCampbell said the bill “provides essentially no evidentiary standards for asset seizure,” does not require the government to report details regarding evidence it says it has, does not include provisions that protect the due process rights for individuals and “contains zero measures to ensure transparency and accountability.”

“Due process is the foundation of our legal system. While seizing ill-gotten Russian oligarch assets is a righteous cause, we cannot create a precedent that would allow our government to ignore due process rights no matter the justification, because tomorrow the issue will be different but that precedent will remain,” McCampbell added.

Roy said he voted against the bill because it “effectively gives the president a blank check to fund poorly-defined ‘democracy and human rights programming and monitoring.’” He told The Hill that he does not think “Congress should support handing off more of its job to the executive branch and simply trust the Biden administration to follow due process.”

A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez’s office argued in a statement to The Hill that the bill would compel Biden to violate the Fourth Amendment by seizing private property, then allow him to determine where it goes without due process. She said the terms would set a “risky new precedent.”

“Oligarchs should suffer huge financial losses, which is why the Congresswoman participated in designing and voted for the toughest sanctions in recent memory. But this vote asked President Biden to violate the 4th Amendment, seize private property, and determine where it would go – all without due process,” the spokesperson said.

I’m with the votes against.

From Russians in general, no. If their wealth is linked to Putin’s regime, maybe. Probably yes in principle, with major reservations about deciding in practice what wealth is derived in part through political support of Putin.

I’d be concerned about the slippery slope effect.

I think Ukraine is due some reparations. Assuming Russia is unwilling to pay reparations, I could see there being some justification in freezing Russian state assets (and those of key folks who profit from support of Russian state activity), and making it possible for those who experienced damages from the Russian invasion to make claims against those frozen assets.

But is there a risk that we lose the ability to object if other countries did something similar to us? Or, is there a risk that this kind of logic could devolve to the government harassment of folks who merely have unpopular views?

Definitely seems like a slippery slope.

Any reason that we couldn’t give federal prosecutors the power and have a court proceeding with due process?

1 Like

I’m all for seizing and selling off Putin-linked assets, but due process is a must.

1 Like

The only rule in international law is what can you get away with. I’m not too worried about that side of it. The domestic side of the issue is concerning. Three points:

  1. Slippery slope with asset seizure. Asset seizure is a powerful tool of government right behind the monopoly on legal violence. This seems like a “think of the children” type flippant increase in government power.
  2. Consolidation of power with the POTUS. Congress handing more power to the executive branch.
  3. Mechanics. Who gets to determine whose assets get seized and which assets get seized. Who is keeping track, who is doing oversite, etc.

I also found it amusing that mix of 4 R’s and 4 D’s that were against it.

1 Like

This is part of my problem. What is a Putin-linked assets? Putin is/was recognized as the legitimate president of Russia. If a Scottish national builds a brewery in America is the brewery a British-linked asset and opened to seizure if Britian pisses us off?

Realistically, any billionaire today derived the wealth during Yeltsin through the theft of state property and maintained it through political support of Putin. This guy was made an example of the consequences of opposing Putin.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia

1 Like