Skip Main Navigation
Office of Management and Budget
President's Budget
Information &
Regulatory Affairs
Legislative Information
Agency Information

July 19, 2000

H.R. 4118 - Russian-American Trust and Cooperation Act of 2000
(Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R) Fl and 11 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 4118, which states that it would prohibit the President from: (1) rescheduling or forgiving any outstanding bilateral Russian debt owed to the United States; and (2) supporting rescheduling or forgiveness of Russian debt in the Paris Club, unless the President certifies that Russia has ceased operating an intelligence facility in Lourdes, Cuba. The Administration believes that H.R. 4118 is not in the U.S. national security interest.

The security of the American people is the first priority in our relationship with Russia. We share congressional concerns about the Lourdes facility and its intelligence collection activities. However, this legislation is not likely to be an effective lever on Russian actions. The United States, like Russia, maintains a number of signals intelligence facilities around the world. One important function of such facilities for both countries is to collect information to verify arms control agreements. Successive Administrations have steadfastly resisted attempts to define national technical means of verification or to circumscribe the location and use of such systems. Such a hindrance would run counter to fundamental U.S. national security interests, and in particular, to the ability to conduct arms verification. Legislation like this bill may redound adversely to the United States by inviting Russia and other countries to pursue similar charges against U.S. facilities they characterize as threatening. Additional explanation or information relating to facilities such as Lourdes can be provided in classified briefings.

A stable, democratic Russia also contributes to our national security in many important ways, including reducing the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia's transition to a market-based economy is equally important to other U.S. interests in that it helps create a stable democratic Russia that respects private property, enforces the rule of law, and integrates Russia into global economic institutions. A reasonable and considered approach to Russia's indebtedness advances Russia's economic stability. Furthermore, debt rescheduling is an important tool to protect U.S. financial interests by maximizing the prospects of repayment. The flexibility to use this tool would be sharply limited by this legislation. Finally, the bill raises constitutional concerns by purporting to direct the President or his subordinates to take particular positions in international organizations.