It’s becoming more and more rare to see congressional Democrats and Republicans agreeing on anything. However, on Saturday, members of the House and Senate proved that they are capable of putting partisan politics aside and working towards a common goal.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), the House Democratic Whip, announced on Saturday that both chambers of Congress had reached bipartisan agreement on Russia and Iran sanctions legislation.
In a statement about the agreement, Hoyer said:
‘I’m pleased that both parties in the House and Senate have reached agreement on sanctions legislation that will hold Russia and Iran accountable for their destabilizing actions around the world. The legislation ensures that both the Majority and Minority are able to exercise our oversight role over the Administration’s implementation of sanctions. Other changes made to the bill will ensure effective and unified implementation among partners and make provisions more workable. I look forward to seeing this legislation on the Floor next week, where I’m confident it will receive strong, bipartisan support.’
The legislation will penalize Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. It will also include economic penalties against Iran and North Korea.
The bill could potentially be passed before Congress breaks for the August recess. However, there is a possibility of resistance from the White House.
President Trump has, not surprisingly, objected to a key sanction of the bill that would mandate a congressional review if he tried to ease or end the sanctions against Moscow. Trump would be required to send Congress a report explaining why he wants to suspend or terminate a particular set of sanctions. Congress would then have 30 days to decide to allow the move or reject it.
According to NBC, the requirement of a congressional review was included in the bill “because of wariness among lawmakers from both parties over Trump’s affinity for Putin.”
While Trump could veto the bill, doing so would likely lead to outrage from both Republicans and Democrats, and his decision could ultimately be overturned.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has called the sanctions legislation “strong” and told NBC that he expects it to be passed promptly.
‘Given the many transgressions of Russia, and President Trump’s seeming inability to deal with them, a strong sanctions bill such as the one Democrats and Republicans have just agreed to is essential.’
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), the top ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, has also praised the bill and said the fact that Congress is “nearly united” over it sends a strong message.
‘A nearly united Congress is poised to send President Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message.’
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) posted a legislative business schedule on Saturday morning that shows the sanctions bill will be considered in the House on Tuesday of next week. From there, it will likely be taken up by the Senate, although it’s unclear exactly when Senate leaders will bring it to the floor.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike favor the bill, but Russia is, of course, not pleased. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a text message to CNN on Saturday that he sees the agreement “quite negatively.”
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images.