Rep. Ted Deutch wants to know why the White House is trying to obstruct new sanctions on Russia while simultaneously fending allegations that Trump's campaign colluded with Russia.
The White House’s new attempt to blockade a nearly unanimous Senate sanctions bill that aims to punish Russia for interfering in last year’s election is infuriating Democrats.
And they’re demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan finally stand up to Donald Trump, as his administration becomes further embroiled in its own Russia scandal.
“Speaker Ryan needs to find his backbone to stand up to President Trump and let the House vote on this sanctions bill this week,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who serves on the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees. “Failure to act on this sanctions bill makes the Speaker complicit in the White House’s apparent efforts to repay Russia’s political favors.”
The proposed economic sanctions target Russia’s mining, metals, and shipping industries. If passed and signed into law, they would be in addition to U.S.-backed sanctions imposed on Russia that began in 2014 in response to Russia annexing the Crimea territory of Ukraine.
Despite the current bill’s overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, the White House is balking as the legislation makes its way through the House. The administration objects to the Senate bill’s insistence that the president not be allowed to unilaterally lift the sanctions. The administration wants it so Congress has no say regarding the sanctions once the bill is signed.
Many in Congress don’t trust Trump when it comes to Russia and his persistent desire to buddy up to President Vladimir Putin. Following Trump’s lengthy meeting last week with Putin in Germany, Trump announced he wanted to move forward "working constructively with Russia."
The Senate’s proposed election-meddling sanctions were discussed by Trump and Putin last week.
Democrats aren’t the only ones upset by the White House’s stalling over the sanctions bill.
“If the president doesn’t sign this bill to punish Russia, he would be betraying democracy,” lamented Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
The White House push to stymie the sanctions bill runs parallel with the administration's widening scandal over collusion with Russia last year. That story has produced a string of recent bombshell revelations that detail how Trump’s senior campaign advisers were ready and willing to meet with a “Russian government attorney” last year who reportedly promised to deliver political dirt on Hillary Clinton for the general election.
The White House’s insistence on helping Moscow avoid new sanctions only raises concerns about Trump’s motivation — and raises doubts about the strength of Ryan’s backbone.