Congress Reaches Bipartisan Deal To Sanction Russia

By Jason Taylor

It’s nice to see Congress deciding to push back. Thank goodness for those who have the courage and conviction to stand up in opposition and protect our democracy. Without this hopeful note, I would be in despair over the future of our country. Totalitarian regimes everywhere in history start with people like Trump being given way too much power. It’s a mistake to give the power in the first place, but when the mistake becomes evident, measures like this become essential.

The House is slated to vote Tuesday on bipartisan legislation to limit the Trump administration’s ability to lift sanctions on Russia. The White House had urged lawmakers to water down the provisions limiting its ability to lift sanctions. But the legislation is expected to head to President Trump’s desk without the requested changes.

The bipartisan support for this bill shows that even Republicans are slowly willing to do an end-run around Trump. As the health care bill showed, *some* Republicans simply don’t fear him anymore.

The legislation will be considered under an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage. That also means it’ll pass by a veto-proof majority. In addition to imposing new sanctions on Russia, the legislation allows lawmakers to vote to block the Trump administration from making changes to sanctions policy. Next week’s vote on the sanctions legislation will come amid investigations of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

Trump believes he has absolute power, but he is acting as if he believes Putin has absolute power over him. Congress has to save democracy and refrain from self-serving and self-dealing with the most corrupt administration and the most corrupt President in history.

Under the deal unveiled Saturday, either the House majority or minority leader can introduce such a resolution.

“The legislation ensures that both the majority and minority are able to exercise our oversight role over the administration’s implementation of sanctions,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who pushed for the revision in talks with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed concern the addition of North Korea sanctions could add procedural delays in the Senate, even though she supports them. 

“It is essential that the addition of North Korea to this package does not prevent Congress from immediately enacting Russia sanctions legislation and sending it to the President’s desk before the August recess,” Pelosi said in a statement.

While the bill doesn’t sound ideal, it’s a big step forward in constraining Trump’s capacity to do Putin’s bidding. And it’s indeed remarkable that a political party lacks so much confidence in its own president and sees the need to limit his authority in this way. Nevertheless, look for Trump to try to find ways around it after it becomes law.

Say goodbye to Trump Inc. and hello to American governance, Donald. You don’t get to call the shots all by yourself here. Whether it is getting health care legislation passed, or penalizing other nations, you have to work with Congress. And when legislators work against your agenda, there’s no saying, “You’re fired!”

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