March 19, 2018

Democrats Push House Bill to Lock In Sanctions Against Russia

15 July 2017, 12:50 | Denise Dawson

White House Pressures Congress to Soften Russia Sanctions Bill

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, who spoke to reporters at an off-camera briefing said Monday that the White House is'fully supportive of the sanctions themselves but was lobbying to get flexibility in applying them

The Senate passed the Iran and Russian Federation sanctions measure last month but the House parliamentarian ruled that late-added language violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution, creating a so-called blue slip issue.

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".

We also included Russia's response, as well as the state of US-Russia relations at the time.

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 Senate changed the bill to address that issue, but also tweaked it in a way that Democrats said weakened a provision requiring Congress to approve any effort by the president to ease sanctions on Russian Federation.

Senators who shepherded the Russian Federation sanctions deal, which was added onto a bill leveling new sanctions against Iran, have been frustrated with the House fight, and are trying to stay out of it.

The Democrats have said that, to get around the issue, they would introduce a new, but identical, bill in the House, thus meeting the requirement that a revenue bill originate in that chamber, and then send it to the Senate.

Russia experts agree that further delay of the bill will be viewed positively by the Kremlin, especially following the friendly meeting Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.

Donald Trump Jr. eagerly agreed a year ago to meet a woman he believed was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic White House nominee Hillary Clinton, as part of Moscow's official support for his father, according to emails released on Tuesday.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House speaker Paul Ryan, said Democrats still were objecting to moving the Bill in its current form.

US Informs South Korea Plans to Start Talks to Amend Trade Pact
The Cheong Wa Dae official acknowledged the session needs to be within 30 days, but "unless the sides agree otherwise". The Trump administration blames the trade gap on barriers to U.S. exports, particularly within the auto market.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged the House to act quickly.

While the new bill is identical to what the Senate passed, it will be labeled as House legislation to avoid a procedural issue that prompted House Republican leaders to send the measure back to the Senate.

Democrats have accused Republicans of stalling the bill at the behest of the White House, which is opposed to the provisions giving Congress review power over any easing of Russian Federation sanctions.

With the bill stalled, House Democrats looked to push past the procedural problem Wednesday by introducing an identical version of the Senate's bill. And he said any White House would prefer to conduct foreign policy without Congress, but the administration had not asked him to kill the bill.

"I think that the president has every right to call Congress back if necessary, because I think he'd made a very fair point that I believe that the Democratic obstruction is jeopardizing national security", Short said.

With a pause on Capitol Hill because of the July 4th recess, many are taking stock of the prospects for the Senate passed legislation meant to dramatically expand sanctions on Russian Federation.

"House Democrats are looking for cover as they continue to block a bipartisan motion that would allow the House to begin consideration of the fixed Senate bill", the aide told TWS.

"It's an idea, and obviously I don't find it unappetizing", Royce said.

The House will take up the bill on the 11th when it returns.

Congress sought to craft the latest Russian Federation sanctions legislation (other provisions hit Iran) in a way that would both apply new sanctions and give Congress the ability to review any administration efforts to peel back sanctions unilaterally.

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