Sanc­tions bill on three U.S. ad­ver­saries passes, sets up veto dilemma for Trump

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian

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.

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