The people’s representatives have been supporting Americans in a big way. Donald Trump appears to be supporting Russia’s’ people but only the top oligarchs — in a big way. The Republican-led Senate actively followed Trump’s lead. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has disappeared. Yet, in a magnificent show of support for the voters who just put them in office, the House spoke out loudly against the president.
The vote was a stunning 362-53 to overrule the Treasury Department’s release of the sanctions. A full 136 Republicans voted with the Democrats. Unfortunately, the Senate overruled them. Still, the House’s message against the president was clear.
Originally, the Senate voted 100 to 0 to sanction the Russians for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The best way to hurt Russia is to sanction the country’s oligarchs’ business. In this case, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department sanctioned an oligarch very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Oleg Deripaska, right before he left office.
The Washington Post noted Deripaska owns majority holdings in two companies located in Russia. One is the “aluminium manufacturing giant.” The other is a power company:
‘Russian aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal, EN+ Group and the Russian power company JSC EuroSibEnergo. EN+ Group is a holding company that owns nearly 50 percent of Rusal.’
Trump slow-walked those sanctions. Then, he made motions of dropping those sanctions entirely. This time, however, the Senate leadership acted as if the whole Senate was working for Donald Trump.
Even though 11 Republican senators voted with the Democrats to keep the sanctions in place, they failed by two votes. That courageous and magnificent 11 included:
‘Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marco Rubio (FL), Lindsey Graham (SC), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Martha McSally (AZ),.Ben Sasse (NB), Susan Collins (MN), Steve Daines (MT), Jerry Moran (KS), and John Boozman (AK). ‘
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified before the House and Senate behind closed doors. Afterward, he spoke publicly, warning that continued sanctions of Deripaska might hurt the “global aluminium markets.” He also said the sanctions might cause Russia to nationalize the company.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walked out of the House’s hearing where Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions “shouldn’t be a political issue.” She said it was the worst testimony she had ever heard.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) agreed with Pelosi about Mnuchin’s testimony:
‘With the threat that Russia poses to the United States, to our friends and allies around the world, Congress cannot just look the other way.’
House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters agreed, saying that the U.S. must make certain:
‘…we don’t align ourselves with the people who are undermining this democracy.’
According to Mnuchin, Deripaska committed to quitting these Russian companies. The Treasury Department said the Russian remained blacklisted under the existing requirements.
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) backed the Trump administration’s decision to lift the sanctions. Still, not one member of the GOP spoke positively on the House floor about Trump’s decision.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.