Law­mak­ers forge sanc­tions deal

Sen­a­tor drops ob­jec­tion to mea­sure’s North Korea penal­ties

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON — House and Se­nate Repub­li­cans have worked out a deal to move quickly on a pack­age of new fi­nan­cial sanc­tions against Rus­sia, Iran and North Korea, clear­ing the way for Congress to send the leg­is­la­tion to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a con­gres­sional leader said late Wed­nes­day.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chair­man of For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment that he and House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy had reached an agree­ment that re­moved the last ob­sta­cle to pass­ing the bill. The mea­sure hits the three U.S. foes with ad­di­tional penal­ties.

The House had over­whelm­ingly ap­proved the leg­is­la­tion Tues­day, 419-3. But Corker had ob­jected to in­clud­ing the sanc­tions tar­get­ing Py­ongyang in the leg­is­la­tion. He wanted to keep the North Korea penal­ties in a sep­a­rate bill that the Se­nate would con­sider.

But Corker dropped his ob­jec­tions. He said the Se­nate will “move to ap­prove” the House-passed bill af­ter re­ceiv­ing as­sur­ances the North Korea sec­tions would be fine­tuned at a later date.

“Go­ing for­ward, the House has com­mit­ted to ex­pe­di­tiously con­sider and pass en­hance­ments to the North Korea lan­guage, which mul­ti­ple mem­bers of the Se­nate hope to make in the very near fu­ture,” he said.

The sanc­tions against Moscow are pun­ish­ment for its med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and its mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion in Ukraine and Syria. Ac­cord­ing to the bill, Trump would be barred from eas­ing the Rus­sia sanc­tions with­out first get­ting per­mis­sion from Congress, a de­mand that could im­peril his bid for bet­ter re­la­tions with Moscow.

A ver­sion of the sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion that only ad­dressed Rus­sia and Iran cleared the Se­nate nearly six weeks ago with 98 votes.

“Not a word of the North Korea bill has been looked at over here. Not a word,” Corker told re­porters ear­lier on Wed­nes­day as he ex­plained his con­cerns.

But House law­mak­ers fired back, not­ing that the House de­ci­sively passed a North Korea-only sanc­tions bill in May, yet the Se­nate never took that bill up. They added that it’s all the more im­por­tant to push ahead with the North Korea sanc­tions af­ter U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials re­leased a re­port Tues­day show­ing that they be­lieve Py­ongyang will have a re­li­able, in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­sile ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a nu­clear weapon as early as next year.

“That is why the House added the pre­vi­ously Housep­a­ssed North Korea sanc­tions bill — which has been lan­guish­ing in the Se­nate for over two months — to the Se­nate bill,” said Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Mary­land, the top Demo­crat on the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said he has no ob­jec­tions to mak­ing the North Korea sanc­tions part of the over­all pack­age.

“There’s noth­ing in the bill that I find prob­lem­atic,” he said. “I hope we pass it the way it is.”

Rus­sian leg­is­la­tors, mean­while, called Wed­nes­day for “painful” mea­sures against the United States in re­sponse to the U.S.’ plans for new sanc­tions, and the Krem­lin fo­cused more on the dam­age to re­la­tions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Moscow.

Apart from de­mand­ing a tough re­sponse, many in Rus­sia de­clared dead any hope for im­proved re­la­tions with Wash­ing­ton un­der Trump, and there were sug­ges­tions that Euro­pean pique over the pro­posed mea­sures cre­ated an open­ing for an anti-U.S. al­liance.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, noted that the pro­posed U.S. law was still a draft. Any sub­stan­tial re­sponse by Putin would re­quire more study, he said.

“In the mean­time, it can be said that the news is quite sad with re­gard to Rus­sia-U.S. re­la­tions and prospects for their de­vel­op­ment.” He added that it was “no less de­press­ing with re­gard to the in­ter­na­tional law and in­ter­na­tional com­mer­cial re­la­tions.”

Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments emerged from sev­eral Euro­pean cap­i­tals. In Paris, the For­eign Min­istry is­sued a state­ment say­ing the new sanc­tions against the three na­tions ap­peared to con­tra­dict in­ter­na­tional law be­cause of their global reach.

In Ger­many, the For­eign Min­istry on Wed­nes­day ex­pressed con­tin­ued con­cern about the U.S.’ moves, while say­ing changes made in the bill passed by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Tues­day are steps in the right di­rec­tion. That bill calls for U.S. co­or­di­na­tion with Euro­pean Union al­lies be­fore sanc­tions are ap­plied.

Ger­many is hold­ing to its po­si­tion that sanc­tions rules must not be used as a tool to in­flu­ence spe­cific in­dus­tries, said Martin Schae­fer, a For­eign Min­istry spokesman. Still, Ger­many wel­comed the lat­est leg­isla­tive pro­posal re­gard­ing U.S.-EU co­op­er­a­tion prior to im­ple­ment­ing sanc­tions, Schae­fer said. In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Richard Lardner of The As­so­ci­ated Press; by Neil MacFar­quhar of The New York

Times; and by Rainer Buer­gin and Arne Delfs of Bloomberg News.

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