U.S. Se­nate passes Rus­sia sanc­tions bill

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last month, also by a vote of 98 to 2, that fo­cused on just Rus­sia and Iran.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders de­clined to say Thurs­day whether the pres­i­dent would veto the bill.

“We’re go­ing to wait and see what that fi­nal leg­is­la­tion looks like, and make a de­ci­sion at that point,” she said.

But in an in­ter­view on CNN ear­lier in the day, Scara­mucci said that Trump “may veto the sanc­tions” in or­der to “ne­go­ti­ate an even tougher deal against the Rus­sians.”

It is un­likely that prom­ise will be per­sua­sive to mem­bers of Congress, who banded to­gether in near-unan­i­mous num­bers to en­dorse un­prece­dented over­sight pow­ers over the pres­i­dent’s sanc­tions au­thor­ity, a sign of many law­mak­ers’ con­cerns that Trump is fos­ter­ing a too-warm re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and may scale back puni­tive mea­sures against Moscow.

Un­der the bill, the pres­i­dent is re­quired to no­tify Congress be­fore mak­ing any al­ter­ations to Rus­sia sanc­tions pol­icy, and law­mak­ers then have 30 days in which they can block the pres­i­dent from im­ple­ment­ing those changes. The pro­ce­dure, known as “con­gres­sional re- view,” is the most sweep­ing au­thor­ity Congress has given it­self to check the pres­i­dent on sanc­tions pol­icy in decades.

Such mat­ters have tra­di­tion­ally been left to the ex­ec­u­tive branch once Congress au­tho­rizes the sanc­tions at the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s dis­posal. Even in the case of manda­tory sanc­tions, Congress usu­ally steers clear of the pres­i­dent on mat­ters of na­tional se­cu­rity.

But law­mak­ers are wor­ried by hints that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion might make con­ces­sions to Rus­sia, specif­i­cally sanc­tions that the Krem­lin has sought to have lifted. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­sid­ered hand­ing back to Rus­sia con­trol of two U.S. com­pounds the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion seized at the end of last year, ac­cus­ing Moscow of us­ing them for in­tel­li­gence pur­poses. And Trump and his sur­ro­gates have spo­ken to Putin and other Rus­sian op­er­a­tives about restor­ing the abil­ity of U.S. cit­i­zens to adopt chil­dren from Rus­sia — which the Krem­lin won’t al­low un­til the United States re­peals the Mag­nit­sky Act and Global Mag­nit­sky Act sanc­tion­ing hu­man-rights vi­o­la­tors.

House and Se­nate lead­ers were un­moved by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­peated ef­forts to re­move Congress’ 30-day re­view power from the leg­is­la­tion. In fact, the fi­nal dis­pute among con­gres­sional lead­ers had to do with sen­a­tors want­ing to ap­ply a sim­i­lar con­gres­sional re­view pro­vi­sion to the North Korea sanc­tions por­tion of the bill. In the deal they struck Wed­nes­day night, Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he se­cured a prom­ise from House Ma­jor­ity Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that the House would take up such en­hance­ments in the near fu­ture in ex­change for the Se­nate pass­ing the House­ap­proved sanc­tions bill this week.

Ear­lier this week, the House passed the same leg­is­la­tion by a vote of 419 to 3.

Be­yond the con­gres­sional re­view pro­vi­sion, the bill cod­i­fies ex­ist­ing sanc­tions, and steps up sanc­tions against Moscow over Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment in the wars in Ukraine and Syria, as well as al­le­ga­tions it in­ter­fered in the 2016 U.S. elec­tions. The bill also stiff­ens puni­tive mea­sures against Iran and North Korea in an at­tempt to cur­tail those coun­tries’ bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests and other ag­gres­sive ac­tiv­i­ties.

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