The Post edi­to­rial: Sanc­tions bill pro­vides hope»

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

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.

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