Congress to dodge Trump veto
WASHINGTON: A weeks-long impasse over imposing new financial sanctions on Iran and Russia was broken late on Friday, with the House preparing to vote this week on a bill that would prevent US President Donald Trump from lifting measures against Moscow.
House leaders agreed to vote on an expanded version of the bill after adding sanctions aimed at freezing North Korea’s nuclear programme and draining the government of revenue to fund it. The measures against Pyongyang, which passed the House 419 to 1 as a stand-alone bill in May, were inserted at the request of House Republican leaders.
Should the bill pass the House and Senate, it would pose a difficult veto dilemma for Trump, whose presidency has been enveloped in questions about his ties to Russia.
The administration has not issued a formal veto threat, but several officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have spoken out against it.
While some details have yet to be finalised, congressional aides said, the bill is set for a vote tomorrow. The legislation will move under special, expedited procedures for non-controversial bills expected to pass with a two-thirds majority – enough support to overcome a presidential veto.
The bill, however, has hardly had a smooth ride.
An initial Senate bill – which slapped new sanctions on Iran in response to its ballistic missile testing, and on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 US presidential election – passed in June on a vote of 98 to 2. Critically, the punitive measures against Moscow could be lifted only with congressional approval, a departure from the flexibility presidents are traditionally given to conduct foreign policy.
But the bill hit an immediate procedural snag over claims that it ran afoul of the constitutional requirement that revenue bills originate in the House.
The roadblock came as Trump administration officials stepped up a campaign against the bill, prompting Democrats to accuse House GOP leaders of stalling on Trump’s behalf.
New obstacles emerged this month. House Democrats objected to Senate changes to the bill that could freeze out the House minority’s ability to block sanctions relief. And the oil-and-gas industry raised concerns that US companies could be frozen out of projects with Russian partners.
Last week, Republicans added a twist by proposing that the sanctions against North Korea, which the House had already endorsed, be attached to the Senate bill. Democrats accused them of trying to delay the legislation’s progress through Congress, and even Senate Republicans seemed surprised by, if still amenable to, the request.
But according to congressional aides, negotiations continued behind the scenes this past week, with McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer working to strike a compromise, along with the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Washington Post.