Michael Steele Accuses GOP Senators of 'Collusion' for Blocking Russian Sanctions

18 January, 2019, 01:26 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Senate rejects resolution to block President Trump from lifting sanctions on Russia

The House issued a symbolic rebuke to the Trump administration on Russian Federation, overwhelmingly passing a resolution against lifting sanctions on companies tied to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Kremlin ally.

"I do disapprove of the easing of the sanctions because I think it sends the wrong message to Russian Federation and to the oligarch - a close ally of Mr. Putin, Oleg Deripaska - who will in my judgment continue to maintain considerable control under the Treasury's plan", Collins told reporters after casting her vote.

The vote was 57-42 to end debate on the measure, as 11 of President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans joined Democrats to support the measure as he faces questions about his relationship with Moscow. Newly minted Sen. Rick Scott joined a majority of his GOP colleagues to block the vote.

But the result still represented a symbolic rebuke of the Treasury Department's decision in December to lift the sanctions on the companies tied to Deripaska, a Kremlin ally.

Senate aides said Treasury staff had approached senators and staff repeatedly to argue that it was appropriate to lift the sanctions imposed in April because Deripaska had agreed to cut back his controlling stakes.

He added, "There are some legitimate concerns about whether the sanctions regime is tough enough to hold people like Oleg Deripaska from basically retaining control over this company".

Scott did not comment on the vote. The sanctions on the company spurred demand for Chinese metal.

Congress has the power to reject any lessening of sanctions on Russian Federation, but only if it has enough votes. John Boozman (Ark.), Susan Collins (Maine), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), John Kennedy (La.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Ben Sasse (Neb.) - broke with their party and voted to advance the measure.

While the sanctions relief is poised to move forward after the 30-day review expires today, House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal said he would still dig into the issue.

The Russian companies, along with some European governments, also lobbied for months for the sanctions to be eased.

The pushback came despite a last-minute plea by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to support Treasury's plan, which has the backing of Team Trump despite Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Deripaska had ties with Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, documents have shown.

The Senate's Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, dismissed the Democratic-led resolution as a political stunt.



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