The Post editorial: Sanctions bill provides hope»
Hours before Republican efforts to fix health care unraveled in dramatic fashion, Congress proved to the world that it’s still relevant — and that it will not be bullied.
With only two senators voting against a measure that will impose sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran, the legislative branch of government took international threats into its own hands, acting to tamp down untoward political meddling in U.S. elections and intercontinental ballistic missile proliferation.
Having passed the House on Tuesday 419-3, the sanctions bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who has expressed a reluctance to sign the measure. That’s likely because lawmakers wisely inserted a provision in the bill requiring the president to talk to Congress before rolling back any sanctions.
According to The Wall Street Journal, White House officials said the bill may infringe on presidential authority.
Happily, we think that might be the point of the measure, and even Republicans speaking on the floor Thursday alluded to such, although framing it in the guise of President Barack Obama’s international overreach and not the current administration’s questionable relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It’s true Obama used his pen perhaps too frequently to bypass an ineffective Congress. But keep in mind that in January Trump was floating the idea of rolling back Obama’s sanctions on Russia, talk that alarmed our international partners.
Regardless of who you blame for the current over-concentration of power within the executive office, America will prosper when its deliberative body is functioning as it should.
The road that the sanctions bill took is an example of how laws should be made. It evolved through negotiations between our bicameral government, stalled and was redrafted amid constitutional concerns and finally appealed to almost every lawmaker in the building. Who opposed the bill is telling. Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian who has become his own brand of conservatism, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is so liberal he’s nearing socialism. If Congress loses the support of those two on a bill, it’s a good sign things are headed in the right direction. The entire Colorado delegation supported the measure.
In contrast, efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act were done outside the normal procedures of Congress — in part to require only a 51 vote margin — and conducted in a slapdash manner that would have allowed an amendment to pass with little to no time to evaluate the impacts.
Approving such a bill in that manner would have been unconscionable, setting a precedent that anything goes in pursuit of campaign promises. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and John McCain, R-Arizona, were the final GOP votes shooting down the measure. It was the right thing to do for procedure and policy.
Sadly, in that battle, Colorado’s Republican senator, Cory Gardner, didn’t join the ranks of those willing to rise above party interests. Coloradans will remember, and they should not remember fondly this profound lack of leadership.
With so much gridlock, and so much insanity coming from the White House, it’s nice to be reminded that our institutions can work for the American people. Against heavy pressure from the oil and industry — and the White House — the sanctions bill sailed through, passing with enough votes to override any veto. Against heavy pressure from hardliners — and the White House — the botched effort to reform Obamacare failed before true conservative leadership.
For a day and a night, at least, Congress held firm to do the right things.