Schumer Will Force Vote Over Decision To Relax Sanctions On Oligarch-Linked Firms

Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says he’ll force a vote in the coming days on the Treasury Department’s decision to ease sanctions on three companies connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (pictured above).

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended the decision, saying the companies are undergoing a major restructuring to “sever Deripaska’s control and significantly diminish his ownership.” He says Deripaska himself and any companies he controls remain under sanctions.

Schumer, however, contends the Russian oligarch maintains significant influence on these companies, including the aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal.

Schumer says it’s important the sanctions remain in place while the special counsel’s Russia investigation proceeds. Deripaska has figured into the investigation due to his ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Read Schumer’s office’s press release on the matter below:

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he will force a vote in the U.S. Senate in the coming days on a resolution to disapprove of the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision in December to relax sanctions for three Russian companies connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is reportedly among those under investigation by Special Counsel Mueller and said to have deep ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort: EN+ Group Plc, JSC EuroSibEnergo, and United Co. Rusal Plc.

When the Treasury Department first announced its intention to relax these sanctions on December 19, 2018, Sen. Schumer, Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) issued a statement laying out their concerns regarding the Treasury Department’s ability to enforce the agreement reached with the companies to limit Deripaska’s control, noting that the new Congress would need to review the decision.  Following the completion of the Senate Committee review process, Leader Schumer has concluded that the Treasury Department’s decision to lift sanctions on these three Russian companies was misguided and believes that the Senate must act to right the Trump Administration’s wrong, especially given the fact that the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation has not yet completed its work.

Under The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Leader Schumer has the right to bring a privileged Resolution of Disapproval of the Sanctions Relief to the floor for a vote in the Senate. After Leader Schumer calls up the privileged resolution, a simple majority of the Senate is needed to proceed to the resolution and then 60 votes is required to invoke cloture. Final passage of the resolution to disapprove requires only a simple majority. Under the CAATSA, the resolution must be passed by both chambers of Congress by January 17, 2019.

“After consultation with the relevant committee ranking members and my colleagues, I have concluded that the Treasury Department’s proposal is flawed and fails to sufficiently limit Oleg Deripaska’s control and influence of these companies, and the Senate should move to block this misguided effort by the Trump Administration and keep these sanctions in place,” said Leader Schumer. “Furthermore, given Mr. Deripaska’s potential involvement with Paul Manafort and the fact that the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation has not yet concluded its work, it’s all the more reason these sanctions must remain in place. I urge all of my Senate colleagues to vote to reverse the Administration’s wrongheaded decision to relax these much-needed sanctions.”

Additional Background:  Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Congress has a 30 day window to make an independent assessment of whether the sanctions decision protects U.S. economic and national security. In this case, that gives Congress until January 17th to pass a disapproval resolution if it determines one is needed, as any resolution must be pending in committee for 10 days before it is subject to discharge to the full Senate. Schumer’s decision to force a vote comes after consultation with the Ranking Members on the Banking, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence Committees, and others.

Schumer first filed the resolution of disapproval on January 4, 2019 and submitted a statement for the record, which can be read here. The resolution is available here.

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