SE­NATE VOTE sends sanc­tions bill to Trump.

Mea­sure hit­ting Rus­sia, Iran, N. Korea gives pres­i­dent lit­tle en­force­ment lee­way

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - TER­RENCE DOPP In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Ilya Arkhipov and Stepan Kravchenko of Bloomberg News.

WASH­ING­TON — The U.S. Se­nate gave fi­nal ap­proval to leg­is­la­tion strength­en­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sia and giv­ing Congress the power to block Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump from lift­ing them.

The mea­sure, passed 98-2 Thurs­day by the Se­nate, has al­ready cleared the House and now goes to the pres­i­dent. The White House has given mixed mes­sages about whether Trump will sign the leg­is­la­tion at a time when Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with Moscow.

The bill, which also im­poses new sanc­tions on Iran and North Korea, had been de­layed while law­mak­ers re­solved pro­ce­dural is­sues and re­vised lan­guage that en­ergy com­pa­nies said would pre­vent many over­seas deals.

Re­gard­ing the Rus­sia sanc­tions in H.R. 3364, law­mak­ers say they want to pre­vent the pres­i­dent from act­ing on his own to lift penal­ties im­posed by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion for med­dling in last year’s U.S. elec­tion and for ag­gres­sion in Ukraine. House and Se­nate com­mit­tees and the FBI are ex­am­in­ing pos­si­ble ties be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

The leg­is­la­tion would di­lute Trump’s power, but the bill cleared both cham­bers by wide mar­gins, mean­ing Congress could over­ride a po­ten­tial Trump veto.

How Rus­sia re­sponds will de­pend on the fi­nal form of the leg­is­la­tion, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day while vis­it­ing Fin­land.

U. S. sanc­tions against Rus­sia are “ab­so­lutely il­le­gal from the point of view of in­ter­na­tional law,” Putin said. “At some point we will have to re­spond. It’s im­pos­si­ble to tol­er­ate boor­ish­ness to­ward our coun­try for­ever.”

White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor An­thony Scara­mucci told CNN on Thurs­day that Trump may “sign the sanc­tions ex­actly the way they are or he may veto the sanc­tions and ne­go­ti­ate an even tougher deal against the Rus­sians.”

The sanc­tions against Iran, mod­eled on pre­vi­ous ex­ec­u­tive or­ders, were de­signed to pun­ish en­ti­ties that sup­port ter­ror­ism, sell weapons to Iran, or help its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram. The bill also au­tho­rizes, but doesn’t re­quire, sanc­tions on hu­man-rights abusers.

The North Korea sanc­tions are de­signed to pun­ish the coun­try for its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic- mis­sile pro­grams. The bill con­tains ad­di­tional eco­nomic sanc­tions and re­quires banks to en­sure their ac­counts aren’t be­ing used in trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing sanc­tioned en­ti­ties.

Law­mak­ers from both par­ties said it would be a mis­take for Trump to veto the leg­is­la­tion.

“It’s typ­i­cally not good for pres­i­dents to veto some­thing that can be over­whelm­ingly over­rid­den,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and chair­man of the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer of New York re­jected the idea that Trump would veto the leg­is­la­tion to make sanc­tions even tougher.

“If the pres­i­dent ve­toes this bill, the Amer­i­can peo­ple will know that he is be­ing soft on Putin, that he’s giv­ing a free pass to a for­eign ad­ver­sary who vi­o­lated the sanc­tity of our democ­racy,” Schumer said.

The pres­i­dent’s au­thor­ity to waive or lift sanc­tions re­lated to Rus­sia would be lim­ited by the mea­sure.

Be­fore grant­ing a waiver, end­ing sanc­tions on a per­son or en­tity, or grant­ing a li­cense “that sig­nif­i­cantly al­ters United States for­eign pol­icy” on Rus­sia, the White House would have to sub­mit a re­port to Congress de­scrib­ing the pro­posed ac­tion and the rea­sons for it. Each re­port would have to high­light whether the ac­tion is in­tended to change the di­rec­tion of U.S. pol­icy to­ward Rus­sia, as well as the an­tic­i­pated ef­fects on diplo­macy and na­tional se­cu­rity. Law­mak­ers could then block any at­tempt to ease Rus­sian sanc­tions.


White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor An­thony Scara­mucci speaks Tues­day to mem­bers of the me­dia at the White House in Wash­ing­ton.

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