The White House is pushing House Republicans to water down a bill that would allow Congress to block President Donald Trump from lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia, the New York Times reported late Wednesday.
The major sticking point for Trump’s administration is a provision in the bill that would implement a congressional review process on any executive decision to ease or eliminate the sanctions, according to unnamed senior administration officials cited in the New York Times’ report.
The White House is trying to cast the provision as an incursion on Trump’s executive authority, according to the report, and is trying to get members of Congress to eliminate the provision or add a waiver that would allow Trump to modify the sanctions regardless of a congressional block.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chair of the House Ways And Means Committee, on Tuesday raised a procedural objection blocking the bill from moving forward on the basis that it affects government revenue, and therefore must originate in the House.
“This isn’t a policy issue, it’s not a partisan issue. it is a Constitutional issue that we will address,” Brady told reporters, though his comments did not allay the fears of Democrats who accused House Republicans of stalling the bill to cover for Trump.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday said Trump’s administration is “going to wait and see what happens in the House” before commenting on the bill.
“It’s not just the package. I think there’s some other areas of that package that we need to work with the House and Senate on if it comes back — depending on how it’s handled in the House — that we have to address,” he said.
Yahoo News in June reported that immediately after Trump took office top White House officials moved to “unilaterally rescind” sanctions on Russia.
“There was serious consideration,” Dan Fried, former U.S. Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, told Yahoo News. Fried said he received “panicky” calls from federal officials who said they had orders to develop a proposal to lift sanctions and asked Fried, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”