Russian Federation revelations raise hopes for United States sanctions bill

Allan Goodman
July 16, 2017

The House passed a standalone North Korea sanctions bill in May on a 419 - 1 vote, but the Senate has yet to take up the measure.

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.

Between March 10 and June 21, committee Democrats have sent four letters - two to Deutsche Bank, one to Hensarling, and another to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - requesting documents and answers about Russia's influence on the Trump administration.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, speaks at a July 14, 2017 news conference about Democratic efforts to force Republicans to vote on releasing President Donald Trump's tax returns.

The new bill introduced on Wednesday would eliminate that change to allow House Democrats, as well as Republicans, to force a vote on a resolution of disapproval of any effort to ease Russian Federation sanctions.

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

"No administration likes for Congress to play a role in anything they're doing, especially foreign policy-and I understand that, but I sure hope that the House will take up the bill", he said. He said his original letter on February 1 to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, suggested there be a bipartisan request for Trump's taxes, in part to ensure that the president did not have a personal stake in changes to the tax code that are under consideration.

Last month, the Senate had to pass a new version of the Russian Federation sanctions bill to address a "blue slip" constitutional problem that means bills generating revenue must originate in the House.

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"It would be a very strong statement for all of America to get that sanction bill completed and done, and to the president's desk", McCarthy said. But Democrats then objected to a change by the Senate that they said weakened the bill by making it more hard for the House to vote on any change in sanctions policy by Trump.

"It's hard to put yourself in that position other than saying I don't think it would be appropriate to have that meeting", Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Democrat, Maryland Sen.

Trump administration officials have been meeting with lawmakers to argue against some parts of the bill, including the requirement that Trump obtain Congress' permission before easing any sanctions. These include a procedural move, a "resolution of inquiry", by which the Democrats intend to force a vote on a request that Attorney General Jeff Sessions disclose information about his meetings past year with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak-among other matters.

But AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, blamed House Democrats for holding up the bill unnecessarily.

The senators' measure would give Congress review power over any changes the president might try to make to North Korea sanctions policy that is nearly identical to the review power over Russia sanctions written into the Russia-Iran bill. "House Republicans, as I understand it, said fix it however way you wish, we weren't intending for you not to have that ability".

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce told reporters earlier Friday that he was working on a bipartisan sanctions measure that could see floor action as soon as next week.

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