Russia Findings Raise Hopes for US Sanctions Bill

The Trump administration's legislative affairs and Treasury staff are working to water down Senate-passed Russia sanctions legislation

The Trump administration's legislative affairs and Treasury staff are working to water down Senate-passed Russia sanctions legislation

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said the administration supports "the sanctions on Iran and Russian Federation; however, this bill is so poorly written that neither Republican nor Democratic administrations would be comfortable with the current draft because it greatly hampers the executive branch's diplomatic efforts".

The Senate's majority vote on the bill received an angry response from some European capitals.

The Russia sanctions legislation was written as an amendment to a bill imposing new sanctions on Iran over issues including its ballistic missile program.

Russia experts agree that further delay of the bill will be viewed positively by the Kremlin, especially following the friendly meeting Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. Trump sidestepped a question about whether he would sign the new sanctions package if it reaches his desk but declared his support for existing penalties against Moscow.

House leaders in both parties say they want to get the bill passed, but have continued fighting over a series of procedural disputes.

By calling on Republicans to join them in protecting the 2018 election from Russian hacking Democrats have painted Republicans into a corner.

Despite its passage in the Senate by such a wide margin, the bill has been stalled in the House over what Ryan has called policy and procedural matters.

Marc Short, who heads the White House legislative affairs team, said Monday that the White House is "fully supportive" of the sanctions themselves but was lobbying to get flexibility in applying them.

While Democrats believe Republicans are dragging their feet at the request of the White House, Ryan said it is simply stalled because of procedural issues that need to be cleared up.

The latest package of sanctions was to punish Russian Federation for what the sponsors called "the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria".

"This is all doing nothing but helping Russia, " Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Associated Press. The Russia sanctions measure passed by the Senate is part of a broader bill that also includes new sanctions on Iran.

According ton an aide: 'The net effect of the changes [the administration] wants would certainly weaken one of the legislation's most important components'.

"There are some policy issues with respect to making sure that we don't actually inadvertently help Russian oligarchs and oil firms", Ryan said of some of the changes needed.

A spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cast the current roadblock as the fault of Republicans.

But the Senate's tweak also changed a provision allowing any House member to force a vote on a resolution to disapprove of easing sanctions, raising new objections from House Democrats. "I think frankly they did not realize the effect of striking some of the language which assured a vote by everybody".

Donald Trump Jr. eagerly agreed past year to meet a woman he believed was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic White House nominee Hillary Clinton, as part of Moscow's official support for his father, according to emails released on Tuesday. In other words, no Democrat in the House could do so.

"There has been some assertion that we are holding up the bill", the Maryland Democrat told reporters.

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