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Sen. Cruz: If Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Is Completed, It Will Be the Fault of This Administration

Urges administration to stop Nord Stream 2 pipeline

December 3, 2019

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today at a hearing on the future of U.S. policy toward Russia, urged the administration to finally use its statutory authority to stop Russia's Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline that will vastly strengthen President Vladimir Putin hands at the expense of the rest of the free world.

Warning undersecretary of state for political affairs David Hale about the dangers of Nord Stream 2 at the hearing, Sen. Cruz said:

"Let me give you a very clear message to take back to your colleagues. [...] Time is of the essence. A strategy that is, ‘Let's pursue our diplomatic options,' at this point, is a strategy to do nothing. [...] A strategy that will result with 100 percent certainty in the pipeline being completed and Putin getting billions of dollars and Europe being made energy dependent more so on Russia and in weakening the United States' position in the world.

"The administration can stop it. It is only inertia. There have been principled meetings. There have been, sadly, some bureaucratic intransigence, I think, particularly from the Treasury Department pushing back against exercising clear statutory authorization to stop this pipeline. I want this to be very clear: if the pipeline is completed, it will be the fault of the members of this administration who sat on their rear ends and didn't exercise the clear power.

Sen. Cruz continued, noting the overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress the administration has to stop this pipeline:

"You have an overwhelming bipartisan mandate from Congress to stop this pipeline. It is clear. It is achievable. It is a major foreign policy victory, and the only thing that would allow this pipeline to be built is bureaucratic inertia and dithering within the administration. So, I very much hope that dithering ends and you exercise the clear authority and stop this pipeline before it is completed next month."

Sen. Cruz has led the fight in the Senate to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In November, Sen. Cruz released a video outlining the dangers of the pipeline. Learn more about Sen. Cruz's bipartisan legislation, Protecting Europe's Energy Security Act of 2019 (S. 1441), here and here. Watch Sen. Cruz call for Congress to act here.

Sen. Cruz's line of questioning on Nord Stream 2 during today's hearing may be viewed here and below:

Sen. Cruz: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for your testimony today. Secretary Hale, you just said a moment ago in response to Senator Coons that our focus is on the Russia problem. I agree with that sentiment. I think the administration needs far more of a focus on the Russia problem. Russia is not our friend. Putin is not our friend. I want to focus right now on two areas where the administration could do better. Let's start with Nord Stream 2. In your judgment, if Russia completes the Nord Stream to pipeline, what would the effect be for Russia, for Europe, and for the United States?

Mr. Hale: Very negative. It would create another tool for the Kremlin to use Russia's energy resources to divide Europe, and undermine and destabilize Ukraine.

Sen. Cruz: As you know, we're at the precipice of Nord Stream 2 being completed. Last month, the last regulatory barrier that stood in place - Denmark gave the final environmental approvals to complete the final portion of Nord Stream 2. My understanding is we're roughly 60 days away from the completion of that pipeline. It is now or never. As you know, I authored bipartisan legislation in this committee that passed this committee by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, a vote of 20-2 to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is narrow, targeted sanctions, like a scalpel, designed specifically to prevent the only ships that can lay the pipeline from laying the pipeline and completing that pipeline. Now there is some hope that the Senate, even in this bizarre partisan time, will manage to work together. There's been considerable progress, perhaps passing that Nord Stream 2 legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. I am hopeful that will happen. I'm grateful for the assistance of Chairman Risch, and Ranking Member Menendez to try to make that happen. I think that would be an enormous bipartisan victory for the Senate and for the United States. But that being said, at the end of the day, we don't need to pass that legislation to stop this pipeline. The administration has full authority under CAATSA right now today to impose those same targeted sanctions. Those sanctions that would result in shutting down the ships that are laying the pipeline and stopping it right now today. Why has the administration not yet acted?

Mr. Hale: Well, we've been using our diplomatic tools to seek our goal of stopping this project. Which I think you and I share - the administration shares your concerns.

Sen. Cruz: Has that succeeded?

Mr. Hale: At this stage, we slowed it down, but we have not stopped it.

Sen. Cruz: Is there any prospect - is there a snowball's chance in hell that talking to the German ambassador is suddenly going to magically stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

Mr. Hale: Certainly not talking to the German ambassador, but we have a range of leadership engagements on this, which are still unfolding. We do have some time. There is a deliberative process about what our options are. If we clearly come to the conclusion our diplomacy is not achieved, our goal and sanctions are among them.

Sen. Cruz: So Secretary Hale let me give you a very clear message to take back to your colleagues. I have had multiple conversations with Secretary Pompeo, with Secretary Mnuchin, with the White House on this topic. Time is of the essence. A strategy that is, ‘Let's pursue our diplomatic options,' at this point, is a strategy to do nothing. It is a strategy that will result with 100 percent certainty in the pipeline being completed and Putin getting billions of dollars and Europe being made energy dependent more so on Russia and in weakening the United States' position in the world. The administration can stop it. It is only inertia. There have been principled meetings. There have been, sadly, some bureaucratic intransigence, I think, particularly from the Treasury Department pushing back against exercising clear statutory authorization to stop this pipeline. I want this to be very clear: if the pipeline is completed, it will be the fault of the members of this administration who sat on their rear ends and didn't exercise the clear power. You have an overwhelming bipartisan mandate from Congress to stop this pipeline. It is clear. It is achievable. It is a major foreign policy victory. And the only thing that would allow this pipeline to be built is bureaucratic inertia and dithering within the administration. So, I very much hope that dithering ends and you exercise the clear authority and stop this pipeline before it is completed next month.

Mr. Hale: Thank you for your message.

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