Moscow calls it ‘serious step’ toward wrecking chances of improving ties
WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Russia and force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers’ permission before easing any sanctions on Moscow, in a rare rebuke of the Republican president.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that it is a “serious step” toward wrecking chances of improving ties.
“What has happened goes beyond the realms of common sense,” Sergei Ryabkov told state-run TASS news agency.
“The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step toward destroying the possibilities for normalizing relations with Russia.”
But for now Moscow appears to be keeping its powder dry as it waits to see how Trump reacts.
“We are not giving in to emotions,” Ryabkov said.
“We will work to look for ways to move ahead, persistently and consistently searching for ways to compromise of issues important to Russia and the US.”
It was unclear how quickly the bill would make its way to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. The bill still must be passed by the Senate, which is mired in debate over efforts to overhaul the US healthcare system as lawmakers try to clear the decks to leave Washington for their summer recess.
The sanctions bill came as lawmakers investigate alleged meddling by Russia in the presidential election last year and potential collusion by Republican Trump’s campaign.
Moscow has denied it worked to influence the election in Trump’s favor, and he has denied his campaign colluded.
The White House said the president had not yet decided whether he would sign the measure. Rejecting the bill — which would potentially hamper his hopes of pursuing improved relations with Moscow — would carry a risk that his veto could be overridden by lawmakers.
“While the president supports tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White House is reviewing the House legislation and awaits a final legislative package for the president’s desk,” said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
House members backed the bill, which also imposes sanctions on Teheran and Pyongyang, by a near-unanimous margin of 419-3, with strong support from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, despite objections from Trump, who wanted more control over the ability to impose sanctions.
The bill had raised concerns in the European Union, where US allies depend on supplies of Russian gas.
On Tuesday, Trump’s sonin-law, Jared Kushner, spent three hours with the House of Representatives intelligence panel, his second straight day on Capitol Hill answering questions about his contacts with Russians during the campaign.
Kushner, who is now a top aide in Trump’s White House, said on Monday he had no part in any Kremlin plot. .