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Ranking Member Waters Delivers Opening Statement at Full Committee Markup: “…I Have a Question for the Speaker and MAGA Republicans: ‘When Are You Going to Stop Turning Your Back on Democracy, Both at Home And abroad?’”

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement at a full Committee markup.

When I was Chairwoman of this Committee last Congress, this Committee came together after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, to craft bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting Ukraine and holding Russia accountable. This Committee, and the whole Congress for that matter, recognized the importance of standing up to authoritarian governments, both in Russia and in China. That’s why I am pleased that today this Committee is following that precedent by coming together to pass legislation that will again strengthen our national security, including: 

  • Legislation that I introduced to reverse de-risking by U.S. banks in the Caribbean and other parts of the world, and ensure our presence in the region is not replaced with China’s; 
  • Legislation led by Congressman Sherman to ratchet up compliance with sanctions related to Russia and Belarus;  
  • Legislation led by Congresswoman Garcia to ensure that an important anti-money laundering pilot will have sufficient time to be implemented; and 
  • Legislation led by Congressman Himes to impose sanctions on foreign companies that facilitate spyware targeting U.S. national security personnel. 

Unfortunately, Republicans are marking up one bill that is not bipartisan. It will keep the United States behind other countries, including China, as they race forward to develop a global standard for central bank digital currencies. At this point, nobody fully understands the potential benefits and challenges of CBDCs, or how their implementation could affect the preeminence of the U.S dollar and global finance more broadly. That is why the Biden Administration and the Federal Reserve are researching this.

However, the Republican bill before us today would stifle that research and prevent us from moving forward even if it means that the dollar loses its status as the world’s reserve currency and even if it means that U.S. citizens lose out on faster, cheaper, and simpler payments. I am disappointed that Republicans have taken such a deeply anti-innovation stance.

Still, I am proud of the work we’ve done here on the Committee to reach a consensus on the other bills today. Unfortunately, while we are considering these bills to strengthen our national security, a much greater attack on our national security is happening. Extreme MAGA Republicans are threatening to shut down government programs if Congress doesn’t dramatically slash funding for them. This includes the same national security programs that are the subject of the bipartisan bills today. Both outcomes would inflict untold harm on America, from undermining sanctions and AML-BSA enforcement to stopping reviews of foreign purchases of US companies and technology.

If that wasn’t enough, MAGA Republicans are also blocking the overwhelmingly bipartisan effort in Congress to support our friend and fellow democracy Ukraine, which is under relentless attack by Putin. This betrayal comes even as President Zelenskyy is here in Congress today asking for help.  In fact, after President Zelenskyy gave a powerful speech last night before the United Nations, Speaker McCarthy weakly says he still has questions for the President. Well, I have a question for the Speaker and MAGA Republicans: when are you going to stop turning your back on democracy, both at home and abroad? 

While I’m not surprised that the same Members that supported overturning our elections see nothing wrong with an authoritarian Russia invading Ukraine, I am surprised that my Republican colleagues who I’ve worked with over the years to strengthen our democracy, to counter Russia and China, would go along with these extremists.  

Mr. Chair, I urge you to talk to the Speaker because shutting down the government and abandoning Ukraine not only undermines all of the bills you have put forward today, those actions will cause lasting harm to America. As I said, I’m a little bit disappointed, but I have hope that not only will the opposite side of the aisle support our democracy, but patriotism is at stake here. Patriotism is about making sure that our country is safe, but also making sure our country has what it needs to have a decent quality of life for our seniors, and our children, and our veterans, and on and on and on.

So with that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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