President Trump is facing a stark foreign policy choice: Sign off on punishing new sanctions against Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election or veto a rare bipartisan piece of legislation that would hurt his push for better relations with Russia.
Over the weekend, Congress reached an agreement on a bill to slap Russia, Iran, and North Korea with new sanctions while removing President Trumpâs ability to alter them without Congressional approval. The House is set to vote on the bill Tuesday.
The legislation requires the executive branch to get a resolution of approval for any changes to sanctions — a significant constriction on the presidentâs powers by his own party in Congress.
The White House has expressed reservations about that aspect of the bill after the Senate passed similar legislation last month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that the White House wanted the âflexibilityâ to deal with Russia, and White House legislative director Marc Short expressed opposition to the âunusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress.â
There were also concerns among Republicans and in the oil and gas industry over a rule in the Senate bill that would bar American companies and individuals from working with Russian-sanctioned companies and individuals on big oil and gas projects.
The compromise for the two parties and the two chambers is to combine the Russian, Iranian, and North Korean sanctions into one bill, with moderate technical changes.
The bill would set into law Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama administration for Russiaâs cyber-attack on the Democratic Party and interference in the election, including the end of Russiaâs access to two diplomatic compounds in the U.S. — one of which they are said to have used for espionage. It would also add penalties for Russian interference in Ukraine, Syria and the 2016 election hack.
The Trump administration…