A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that is designed to keep President Donald Trump from lifting sanctions currently in place against Russia while acting on a whim.
The Senators, including such noted longtime Trump antagonists as Arizona’s John McCain and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, say that the bill is to “reestablish” the Congressional role in the president’s foreign policy maneuvers with respect to Russia.
Trump has long shown himself as personally volatile when it comes to staying with the decades old American policy of refusing to capitulate to dictators such as Vladimir Putin, whose regime, among other things, is believed to be behind the deaths of countless opposition political leaders in Russia and is most certainly behind the imprisonment of a number of social activists.
The Kremlin also allegedly functioned as the mastermind behind the months-long cyberwar against the U.S. Democratic Party that ended up helping to doom Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, something that Trump continually refuses to acknowledge as serious.
Trump has openly showed fondness for Putin and has already moved to remove the sanctions that the U.S. put in place following the Russian invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, respectively.
These moves, should they turn out to define Trump’s foreign policy, would send signals that U.S. official policy is to turn away from even acknowledging the seriousness of such atrocities as the now years-long Russian war against the Ukraine.
Lindsey Graham put it bluntly, saying, according to The Hill:
‘To provide relief at this time would send the wrong signal to Russia and our allies who face Russian oppression. Sanctions relief must be earned, not given.’
On that note, Graham, along with McCain, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, and Ohio Republican Sherrod Brown all co-sponsored a Wednesday bill to force any removal of sanctions to take place only under Congressional supervision.
The legislation, if passed, would require President Trump to notify Congress of any plans to lift sanctions against Russia. Congress would then have about three months at the maximum to review Trump’s sanctions removal proposal, and in the meantime, while Congress was reviewing his plans, Trump would be forbidden from lifting the sanctions.
The move is simple, yet forceful, and the Senators behind it have mostly all expressed discontent with Trump’s coziness with Putin on multiple occasions.
As for the viability of the law and what chance it has to actually be passed, there are at least two hurdles for the bill’s backers to jump through to get it to a full floor vote. Still, should it make it to a full vote, the bill’s backers are confident that it will pass.
Hurdle number one is Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. It remains to be seen whether Corker will schedule a vote for the bill in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he presides over. The odds lean towards him doing so, since he has often ended up allied with persons like McCain and Graham in opposition to Trump’s Russia policy.
Hurdle number two is Kentucky Republican and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who is presumably tasked in his role as effectively the leader of the Senate to schedule a full floor vote should the bill make it past Corker. With McConnell fully in bed with Trump, how the bill will fare once it gets under his jurisdiction remains to be seen.
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