The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a new round of sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. The bill also limits the president’s ability to unliaterally lift sanctions, forcing him to seek Congressional approval.
The bill passed quickly, with no deliberation. The final vote was 419-3 in favor of the sanctions.
In May, the House passed a set of strict sanctions against North Korea 419-1. The Senate dragged its feet in passing a version of the bill until sanctions against Russia and Iran were attached to the bill, at which point they quickly passed it.
The Senate passed their own version of the bill on June 15 98-2, but now that the House has passed it the bill will bounce back to the Senate. Assuming the modified bill passes the Senate again, the sanctions package will then go to the desk of President Trump, who may delay them with a veto- but the level of support that the bill has enjoyed makes it unlikely for Trump to do so.
One key tenet of the sanctions bill is that it requires the president to acquire congressional approval before easing sanctions. The purpose of this provision is transparent: to prevent the White House from suspending the sanctions against Moscow implemented in the last days of the Obama administration.
“In regards to the sanctions bill, the President has been very vocal about his support for continuing sanctions on those three countries,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.” He has no intention of getting rid of them, but he wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people possible. Congress does not have the best record on that … he’s very focused on that, but at the same time wants to make sure that sanctions on those three countries remain, and he’s going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.”
This could put Trump in opposition to his own Republican party, which denies any presence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election but also generally take a dimmer view of Moscow and President Putin than the White House.
The European Union has also expressed reservations about the Russian sanctions due to another tenet which would punish non-Russian businesses for working alongside Russian industries. This would adversely affect European energy, especially oil and natural gas development projects totalling trillions of gallons of oil and natural gas every year.
“We are following the draft bill on Russia sanctions with some concern, notably because of its possible impact on the E.U.’s energy independence,” said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Monday.