Wednesday is President Donald Trump’s 71st birthday.
But, that didn’t stop the Senate from passing an overwhelmingly bipartisan package of Russia sanctions that allows Congress to block any attempt from President Trump from easing or ending penalties against Moscow. The move places an enormous restriction on the White House.
In addition to new sanctions, it also allows Congress the ability to review any Trump administration changes to the current penalties Russia receives now.
Happy birthday, Mr. President.
The Senate voted 97-2 on the Russia sanctions and it is now expected to move to the House. And, the Trump administration isn’t happy. Some in the White House are making calls asking to “stop it, slow it, weaken it, dilute it,” said Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.
“It’s particularly significant that a bipartisan coalition is seeking to reestablish Congress, not the president, as the final arbiter of sanctions relief, considering that this administration has been too eager — far too eager, in my mind — to put sanctions relief on the table,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said. “These additional sanctions will also send a powerful, bipartisan statement that Russia and any other nation who might try to interfere with our elections will be punished.”
Previously, Trump’s administration has floated the idea that sanctions relief to Russia was a possible incentive to Vladimir Putin in order to get cooperation in the fight against terrorism. They have maintained this stance while Trump has repeatedly ignored Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. It was sending a bad message – and even Republicans were for the bill.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came out against the bill saying it would in effect not give the president “flexibility to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation.” He stressed that it could harm any continuing dialogue with the Russians.
But, Senator John McCain wasn’t buying that. He praised the deal, saying it was necessary to strike back after Russia orchestrated cyber attacks against the United States.
“Vladimir Putin’s brazen attack on our democracy is a flagrant demonstration of his disdain and disrespect for our nation,” McCain said on the floor ahead of the vote. “This should not just outrage every American, but it should compel us to action.”
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