Sanctions bill on three U.S. adversaries passes, sets up veto dilemma for Trump
The House on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to advance new financial sanctions against key U.S. adversaries and deliver a foreign-policy brushback to President Donald Trump by limiting his ability to waive many of them.
Included in the package, which passed 419-3, are new measures targeting key Russian officials in retaliation for that country’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to those nations’ weapons programs.
Members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have resisted the congressional push — in particular a provision attached to the Russian measures that would require Congress to sign off on any move to relieve those sanctions.
The legislation was revised last week to address some administration concerns, including its potential effect on overseas oiland-gas projects that include Russian partners. But the bill passed Tuesday retains the congressional review requirement.
“These three regimes in different parts of the world are threatening vital U.S. interests, and they are destabilizing their neighbors,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward Royce, R-Calif., said Tuesday. “It is well past time that we forcefully respond.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say Monday whether Trump would sign or veto the bill, adding that the president “has been very vocal about his support for continuing sanctions on those three countries.” The administration did not issue a formal statement laying out its position, as is customary for major bills.
“He has no intention of getting rid of them, but he wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people possible,” Sanders said. “Congress does not have the best record on that . ... He’s going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.”
The administration’s posture toward Russia has emerged as one of the few areas where congressional Republicans have been willing to openly buck the White House’s wishes.
The near-unanimity means the House could override a presidential veto.