U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate floor to propose a bill to immediately impose sanctions on The Nord Stream 2 pipeline — a project that if completed would threaten the national security of the United States and our allies — in response to the Biden administration’s refusal to impose existing Congressionally-mandated sanctions. The bill was blocked. Sen. Cruz then renewed his objections to President Biden’s State Department nominees due to the administration’s appeasement of Putin, that Russian construction, and the risks to American national security they pose.
On his reasoning behind blocking President Biden’s State Department nominees, Sen. Cruz said:
“All of the senators in this chamber know precisely why these nominees have not moved forward. The reason is because the Biden administration is currently engaged in open defiance of the United States Congress, and is doing so in a way that is working serious and material harm [to] the United States’ national security. Over a year ago, in December of 2019, this Senate and indeed the full Congress passed legislation imposing strong sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a pipeline between Russia and Germany designed to carry natural gas as a deep sea pipeline. Vladimir Putin desperately wants this pipeline completed. If the pipeline is completed, it will give billions of dollars to put into use for malign efforts in Europe and throughout the world. This Congress is overwhelmingly convinced that completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is terrible policy. It is bad for the United States. It is bad for Europe. And it is good for Russia and Putin.
“Accordingly, the Congress passed overwhelmingly bipartisan sanctions legislation that I authored along with Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and that legislation proved tremendously successful. How successful was it? When the President signed it into law if my memory serves correctly, at 7pm on a Thursday, construction on the pipeline halted at 6:45pm on that Thursday. Fifteen minutes before the sanctions went into law, they ceased building the pipeline. For a year the pipeline lay dormant, it lay as a hunk of metal at the bottom of the ocean. We had succeeded. Together, this body had won a bipartisan national security victory for the United States.
“Then in November of last year, Joe Biden was elected. When Joe Biden was elected, President Biden and his foreign policy team immediately began signaling weakness on Nord Stream 2 to Putin and that signal was heard. Putin commenced preparatory efforts to begin building the pipeline again within days of the presidential election in November, and Russia began building the pipeline again in January, just days after Joe Biden was sworn in. Existing laws that this body has passed not once but twice mandate sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Unfortunately, the Biden administration decided to waive those sanctions. Waiving those sanctions, I believe, will prove to be a generational, geopolitical mistake. If we continue on the current pace set out by President Biden, Putin will complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that happens.
“For decades, Putin and the next dictator in Russia will get billions of dollars every year from this pipeline. They will use it for military aggression, they will use it for spying on America, they will use it for attacking their enemies. Not only that, Europe will be captive to Russian natural gas. It will be subject to energy blackmail. We don’t have to hypothesize this, because Putin has demonstrated his willingness to use energy blackmail on Europe going forward. This undermines the interest of Europe. It undermines the interest of America. And by the way, it also hurts jobs in the United States of America.
“I’ve made clear to every State Department official, to every state department nominee, that I will place holds on these nominees unless and until the Biden administration follows the law and stops this pipeline and imposes the sanctions. As the senator from New Jersey [Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)] knows well, and he and I worked together closely on the sanctions legislation that the Biden administration is refusing to follow, I have been negotiating with the Biden administration in good faith for months, laying out a path to move these nominees forward. But unfortunately, to date, President Biden has insisted on giving a multi-billion dollar gift benefiting Russia, hurting America, and hurting our national security interests.”
On his legislation to sanction Nord Stream 2, Sen. Cruz said:
“There is a path where I would readily lift these holds, it is to pass — I am in a moment going to propound a unanimous consent request to take up and pass legislation that I’ve introduced that would impose the sanctions that are already required by law, but the Biden administration refuses to follow. This legislation is legislation that both of the Democrat members of the Foreign Relations Committee have voted for substantially similar legislation in the past. If this legislation passes the Senate, if it passes the House and is signed by the president, the day it is signed by the president I will lift these holds. But given that the president and White House have indicated they intend to defy the law, I’m not going to lift the holds unless and until they relent in their effort to give this gift to Vladimir Putin. Accordingly, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of a bill at the desk that would require the imposition of sanctions with respect to Nord Stream 2.”
After Senate Democrats blocked his legislation to sanction the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2, Sen. Cruz then objected to President Biden’s State Department nominees, saying, in part:
“The talking point from the Biden administration as to why they have given this gift to Vladimir Putin is they say the pipeline is almost completed – is over 90 percent complete. The problem with that argument is it’s demonstrably false, because it was equally true in December of 2019. In December of 2019, the pipeline was over 90 percent [complete]. And indeed, at that time, there was a massive Russian disinformation campaign throughout Europe, where the Russian government was putting out, ‘These sanctions will never pass, and if they pass, they will never work. Why? Because the pipeline is over 90 percent complete.’ Well, Mr. President, a pipeline that is 90 percent complete is a pipeline that is zero percent complete. Until it is 100 percent complete, it transmits zero natural gas. The pipeline doesn’t work until you finish it. That Russian disinformation, we discovered the day the sanction legislation was signed, was exactly that – was utterly false nonsense. Why? Because the day it was signed, they stopped construction, and they stopped it for a year. And Putin only began construction after Joe Biden was elected after he was sworn into office, and after his team indicated weakness that they wouldn’t enforce the sanctions against Russia. So they’re talking point that it was 90 percent complete. That was true a year ago, and we knew we could stop it, then we can stop it now. The only reason Putin is building this pipeline is because the Biden administration is unwilling to stand up to Russia. Accordingly, I object.“
“I pressed President Trump vigorously on this topic and engaged aggressively with the Trump administration, with the Treasury Department with the State Department of the National Security Council, and we prevailed in those battles. The Trump administration issued a series of sanctions and they worked, they stopped the pipeline. So I’ve demonstrated a perfect willingness to stand up to a president of my own party on this issue, and we succeeded in stopping the pipeline. Now, when there’s a Democratic president, we have yet to see Democratic members of this body willing to stand up as vigorously to their own party’s president, who is actively and eagerly facilitating the building of this pipeline. I object.”