House committee to vote on Russia sanctions resolution

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U.S. Capitol

(CNN) — The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote as early as Thursday on a resolution laying out proposed sanctions against Russia over the standoff in Ukraine, the panel’s chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, told CNN.

The measure would not carry the force of law, but would instead express House sentiment on Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region and Royce expects support to be bipartisan.

Royce said he and the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, are looking at “points of leverage” that will include sanctions.

Some top business figures with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin “have a tremendous amount of money” in western banks and “they laundered that money to get it there, so it’s very susceptible to asset freezes,” Royce said.

He added they were also talking about visa travel provisions that could be included.

Royce said the resolution was “a first step” and was non-binding, but he stressed that it would serve as direction to the Obama administration and the Kremlin “in terms of where the U.S. Congress stands” on the matter.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have already warned Putin of possible international sanctions and other steps to isolate Russia diplomatically and economically if he escalates the Ukraine crisis.

The goal of such an approach would be to hit Putin where it hurts by weakening the ruble and Russia’s economy while avoiding the possibility of igniting an already volatile crisis to a new level of confrontation and possible violence.

Congress will have a say in the focus and size of the U.S. response.

Multiple congressional committees are discussing how to move forward with sanctions against Moscow as well as other legislation aimed at helping Kiev.

A separate loan guarantee package is moving through the House Appropriations Committee, and Royce believes that measure could also be on the House floor next week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier this week that the United States should only consider sanctions in coordination with Europe.

Some European allies, particularly Germany and France, are balking at sanctions before giving diplomacy a chance.

The Obama administration has already $1 billion in loan guarantees to help insulate the Ukrainian economy from the effects of reduced energy subsidies from Russia.

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