Trump faces show­down over sanc­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is facing a show­down with Congress af­ter law­mak­ers over­whelm­ingly ap­proved a bill of sanc­tions against Rus­sia, Iran and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

As the bill, gain­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port in Congress, was likely to pass the Se­nate soon, Trump would have to de­cide whether or not to sign the leg­is­la­tion that would re­strain his power of eas­ing Russian sanc­tions im­posed by the Barack Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the bill, Congress will have power to veto any de­ci­sion made by the pres­i­dent that would “sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter” US for­eign pol­icy in con­nec­tion with Rus­sia.

Ex­perts ex­pect Trump to sign the bill, prob­a­bly with re­luc­tance.

“The White House will not like the bill, as it lim­its pres­i­den­tial author­ity,” said Steven Pifer, se­nior fel­low at Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

But Trump “may have no choice but to sign”, Pifer said.

The bill passed the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives with a huge ma­jor­ity, sug­gest­ing that a pres­i­den­tial veto would be eas­ily over­rid­den, he added.

The Congress can over­ride a pres­i­den­tial veto by a twothirds vote with both the House and Se­nate vot­ing sep­a­rately.

That “would hand the pres­i­dent a ma­jor political de­feat”, said Pifer.

Ac­cord­ing to Julian Zelizer, pro­fes­sor of pub­lic af­fairs in Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, Trump would be wise to sign the bill.

The bill was Trump’s best op­por­tu­nity to make a strong state­ment about Rus­sia, Zelizer said in a com­men­tary for CNN.

Pifer also saw the over­whelm­ing bi­par­ti­san sup­port on Capi­tol Hill for the bill as a sign of a lack of con­fi­dence in Trump when it comes to deal­ing with Rus­sia sanc­tions.

“They (law­mak­ers) worry ... that he (Trump) might ease the sanc­tions even if Moscow does noth­ing to jus­tify that,” Pifer said.

Just two days be­fore the House vote, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion sent a rather

Briefly

mixed mes­sage on the is­sue.

White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders said on a TV show on Sun­day that Trump was look­ing upon the bill fa­vor­ably and the ad­min­is­tra­tion “sup­ports where the leg­is­la­tion is now”.

The newly ap­pointed White House com­mu­ni­ca­tion di­rec­tor An­thony Scara­mucci told media that his guess was “he (Trump) is go­ing to make that de­ci­sion shortly”.

Af­ter the vote on Tues­day, the White House said it is re­view­ing the leg­is­la­tion with no de­ci­sions made yet.

Trump “awaits a final leg­isla­tive pack­age” for his desk, San­ders said.

MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Com­muters use a rick­shaw to cross a flooded street amid heavy rain­fall in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Wed­nes­day. The coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing down­pours fol­low­ing a de­pres­sion form­ing in the Bay of Ben­gal.

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