Congress wants to Trump-proof Russia sanctions

Republicans overwhelmingly voted for sanctions against Russia — as well as those against Iran and North Korea

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 26, 2017 2:53PM (EDT)

 (AP/Russian Foreign Ministry)
(AP/Russian Foreign Ministry)

President Donald Trump is now in quite a bind when it comes to his ongoing headaches regarding Russia — and he has his own party to thank for it.

By an overwhelming margin of 419-to-3, the House of Representatives (which is controlled by the Republican Party) voted for legislation that will impose a new set of sanctions against Russia for its imperialist military actions and alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The bill, ABC News noted, was designed to punish corruption and human rights abusers within Russia, as well as take hit against vital areas of the Russian economy such as energy and weapons.

Although Russia wasn't the only country targeted by the sanctions — Iran and North Korea were also sanctioned — the Trump administration has worked behind the scenes to scrap a section of the bill that would require congressional review of any attempt by Trump to reduce or remove the sanctions against Russia. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has argued that this provision would infringe on the president's due authority and make it more difficult to pursue a constructive bilateral relationship with Russia.

Despite not declaring that he would veto the bill, Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that he was "going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like." Even if Trump does veto it, the fact remains that if it passes with an overwhelming majority in the Senate as well as the House, his veto will almost certainly be overridden.

Not surprisingly, the Russian government has condemned the new legislation. As Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Russian Foreign Relations Committee and member of the ruling United Russia party, said on Facebook on Wednesday, "Judging by the unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the sanctions package against Russia, Iran and North Korea, there will be no breakthrough (in U.S. and Russia relations) . . . In fact, further degradation of bilateral cooperation is becoming inevitable."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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