Senate Democrats are calling on President Donald Trump to strengthen, not roll back, sanctions on Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t spend all of that effort interfering in our election to get nothing out of it. He helped President Trump get elected, and now it’s time for a little quid pro quo. A pressing issue for Putin is no doubt the sanctions that have crippled the Russian economy.
Last month, President Obama put harsher sanctions on Russia in response to their interfering in our election. USA Today reported at the time:
Responding to evidence that Russia hacked Democratic Party officials during this year’s presidential election, the Obama administration Thursday sanctioned Russian intelligence officials, expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies and shut down two Russian facilities in the United States.
So Senate Democrats, anticipating Donald Trump lifting those sanctions, are working to hold Trump to the same rule as Republicans held Obama to regarding sanctions on Iran. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member Ben Cardin announced legislation on Sunday that they say mirrors legislation passed in 2015, which was first introduced by Republicans, that subjected any proposed change to sanctions on Iran to a Congressional vote.
“Just like every member of the Senate voted to subject any changes to our Iran sanctions regime in 2015, I hope and urge President Trump and Republicans in Congress to both support this bill and increased sanctions on Russia, and oppose any attempts to roll back existing sanctions,” Senator Schumer said.
In 2015, President Obama conceded to bipartisan efforts giving Congress a say in the sanctions on Iran.
At the time, then Speaker John Boehner said, “Congress absolutely should have the opportunity to review this deal. We shouldn’t just count on the administration, who appears to want a deal at any cost.”
Lest Republicans cry partisan, Democrats were a large part of the push to give Congress more say regarding an agreement with Iran and the President’s possible decision to lift sanctions in 2015.
The 2015 bi-partisan legislation requiring congressional review of an agreement and prohibiting the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days was introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
“President Trump must understand that sanctions against Russia demonstrate our will to hold them accountable for their aggression against the United States and other nations around the world,” said Senator Cardin. “Russia has made its intentions clear and the Congress must act.”
Republicans are being put on notice to put their country’s national security ahead of Russia’s interests and Putin’s demands.
The fate of this legislation will show which, if any, Congressional Republicans have the courage to stand by their principles and stand up for this country.