Speaker's Statement on Task Force on Russia

July 7, 2008 - 8:25 PM

Washington, DC - House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) today announced that he has asked U.S Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA), Chairman of the House Policy Committee, to head a wide-ranging inquiry into U.S. policy towards Russia.

The Speaker asked Chairman Cox to form a select group of Policy Committee members, which would comprise chairmen and key Members of the committees of jurisdiction, to pursue the inquiry. The Russia policy review team will advise the House Leadership on Russia, and engage in an extensive review of U.S. policy in this important area.

"Despite the continuing importance of Russia and U.S.-Russian relations, the situation in Russia continues to deteriorate even as Russia's proliferation efforts increase, particularly to Iran, and its bloody war in Chechnya continues," Speaker Hastert stated. "Yet despite this critical policy failure, Russia and the United States share important interests and have the opportunity to forge a better relationship. To help seize this opportunity, I have asked Chris Cox to review every facet of the administration's current Russia policy, including security, economic, and law-enforcement issues. We hope to learn from the failures of the past, so that we can chart a better course in the future."

"The collapse of Russian Communism and the rebirth of a non-Communist Russia are key victories for human freedom in modern times," Chairman Cox said. "The United States must pursue policies that build on this triumph and help the Russian people consolidate democracy, peace, and a free market. Such a policy is in the common interest of both nations."

Speaker Hastert and Chairman Cox have asked twelve senior members to participate in this inter-committee review. They include seven Committee Chairmen, three Subcommittee Chairmen, and two members of the House Leadership: Rep. Cox, chairman of the Policy Committee, who will chair the group; Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-FL), vice chair of the House Conference and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee; Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY), chairman of the International Relations Committee, who also headed the Speaker's Advisory Group on North Korea; Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; who chaired the Iran-Bosnia investigation in the 104th Congress; Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA), chairman of the Banking and Financial Services Committee, who in the previous Session led a series of hearings on the Bank of New York money laundering investigation; Rep. Floyd Spence (R-SC), chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Rep. C.W. Young (R-FL), chairman of the Appropriations Committee; Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, a leading expert on the International Monetary Fund; Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the Banking Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy; Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL), chairman of the Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations; and Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), chairman of the Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Military Research and Development.

Chairman Cox is one of Congress' leading authorities on Russia. After studying Russian in college, he co-founded a company that published real-time English translations of Pravda, the leading Soviet official press organ, in the United States and 26 countries around the world. Rep. Cox has traveled to Russia and, prior to 1991, the Soviet Union many times. In 1990 he traveled to Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, where he joined President Vytautus Landsbergis for the historic victory of the Sajudis human rights movement. During a 1991 visit to the then-closed Soviet port and naval base of Vladivostok, the headquarters of the Soviet Far Eastern Fleet, he delivered an address in Russian to several hundred Soviet naval officers and enlisted men, urging them to support democratic reform. In 1991 he met in Moscow with Boris Yeltsin, then-President of the Russian Republic, in the days immediately prior to the revolution that overthrew the Soviet Union, and later served as an observer during the 1996 Yeltsin-Zyuganov runoff. He is the author of several laws that have assisted the citizens of the captive nations of the former Soviet Empire.