Washington at loggerheads over Russian Federation sanctions

Ken Copeland
July 15, 2017

In the wake of Donald Trump's Jr's release of a stunning chain of emails detailing his conversations with a Russian lawyer who had offered compromising information on Hillary Clinton, Ted Deutch is calling for a vote on the Senate-passed Russia sanctions bill.

The Senate backed the sanctions legislation by 98-2 on June 15 but it has been stuck in the House of Representatives, amid partisan squabbling between Republicans and Democrats.

The previous bill called for imposing "sanctions with respect to Iran in relation to Iran's ballistic missile programme, support for acts of global terrorism, and violations of human rights, and for other purposes".

Congress is keen to take a stronger line against Russian Federation despite Trump pushing for a warmer relationship.

The legislation, which cleared the Senate 98-2, would hit Russian Federation with new sanctions for its meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and give Congress veto power if the Trump administration tries to ease sanctions on Russian Federation.

The American Petroleum Institute said late last week that the bill would expand a prohibition on US energy companies from being involved in oil projects located in Russia to projects around the world that include Russian energy firms.

Opposition to the June sanctions bill was not restricted to Capitol Hill.

House Republican leaders initially rejected the Bill for procedural reasons, prompting the Senate to tweak it. Specifically, the changed language would only allow the House Speaker - a Republican - to trigger a vote to block Trump from rolling back sanctions.

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House Democrats and Republicans have been in disagreement for days over a change made by the Senate to the legislation.

"This is all doing nothing but helping Russia, " Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Associated Press.

House Republican leaders insisted the delay was purely because the bill violated a constitutional requirement that legislation affecting government revenues must originate in the House, not the Senate.

Democrats have forced debate-limiting on Trump nominees 30 times, the White House said, compared to just eight such "cloture" votes on Obama nominees in 2009.

Short said in comments to Axios Monday that the bill was 'so poorly written that neither Republican nor Democratic administrations would be comfortable with the current draft because it greatly hampers the executive branch's diplomatic efforts'.

House Democrats have been objecting to sending the bill back to the Senate by unanimous consent and GOP leaders have been hesitant to call it up for a vote, because blue slip issues have typically been addressed in a bipartisan fashion. Corker said he thought there should be more congressional review of foreign policy. "Not a mode of assuring, as the Senate did, that we have significant oversight and protections vis-a-vis Russian Federation sanctions".

"I don't believe that having the president's party in a position to protect him from any oversight is good policy for our country, and in fact it'd be risky for our country", Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said during his weekly news conference.

Resolutions addressing the Russian sanctions are scheduled before the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committee, according to the report from Politico. It also introduces additional sanctions on Iran over its human rights record and support for allied Syrian militias.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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