Dems Announce Bill To Prevent WH From Giving Russia Sanctions Relief


House Democrats on Wednesday announced a bill geared toward preventing President Donald Trump from relaxing sanctions against Russia.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House minority whip, announced the legislation at a press conference along with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Hoyer said that the bill would “ensure that Russia does not receive any sanctions relief.”

“We want to have no doubt where we stand with these sanctions,” he later added.

Reps. Tom Rooney (R-FL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) are also co-sponsors of the bill but were not present at the press conference.

Hoyer said that the bill would let Congress review any sanctions relief granted by the White House before it is enacted. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) plan to introduce a partner bill in the Senate, Hoyer said.

Schiff said in the press conference that revelations about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration, in which the two reportedly discussed sanctions, “makes this legislation all the more important.”

He added that Trump should not have “unfettered capability” to reduce sanctions against Russia.

The bill would require the president to wait 120 days before making changes to sanctions against Russia and would allow Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval preventing Trump from rolling back sanctions, according to a summary provided by Hoyer’s office. The measure would also codify existing executive orders enacting sanctions against Russia, including the most recent sanctions in response to Russian cyber attacks, per Hoyer’s office.

It’s not clear yet just what level of Republican support the legislation could garner, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) did signal Wednesday morning that he could back congressional action to solidify sanctions against Russia.

When asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about potential efforts in Congress to codify sanctions against Russia, Ryan said he would “for sure support codifying them and making sure that they don’t get watered down.”

The bill will be formally introduced later on Wednesday, according to Kinzinger’s office.

This post has been updated.