WASHINGTON, June 14. /TASS/. The US House of Representatives is unlikely to support the Senate’s initiative to tighten sanctions against Russia, a Congress staff member, who has been involved in the sanctions-related activities for many years, told TASS on conditions of anonymity.
Positions of Senate and House
"This Senate bill is stronger than expected and is a serious bipartisan proposal. Quick action in the House is unlikely, but could inoculate Republicans against the charge of being soft on Russia," the expert said. "Even if this bill doesn't move, it makes any administrative sanctions relief, like returning Russia's dachas on the east coast, an unfriendly act toward Congress," he added.
"I really doubt the House will support this, but was quite surprised the Senate did. I'm not even sure this will spur the House to draft its own proposal, but if the pressure rises, it might," he went on to say. "That said, the only pressure I see right now is from Democrats and the foreign policy establishment and that shouldn't be enough to move a Republican-led House to override a populist White House, especially this early in the president's term," he pointed out.
In order to become a federal law, a bill should be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by the president, which means that even if the Senate approves its sanctions bill, the House will have to either support it or come up with its own to harmonize the two bills later. According to the expert talking to TASS, "the strongest reason for the House to move the Senate bill is as a hedge against their political vulnerability on Russia."
US Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier that the US authorities could add new sanctions on Russia. He also said that new sanctions would be enshrined in a law limiting President Donald Trump’s ability to lift them. At the same time, Graham confirmed that the US Senate planned to approve a bill on sanctions against Iran, while sanctions on Russia could be added to this bill.
A bill on new sanctions against Russia was put forward by Senators John McCain and Benjamin Cardin in January. The senators proposed that sanctions be introduced against Russian law enforcement agencies and the energy sector, particularly limiting investment in projects concerning civil nuclear energy. Besides, the current sanctions were supposed to be tightened.
Trump administration’s approach, Moscow’s position
On June 14, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clarified the Trump administration’s approach before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I would urge... allowing the president the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the need in what is always an evolving diplomatic situation," he said. According to Tillerson, the administration needs "the ability to turn the heat up but also maintain the ability to have a constructive dialogue" with Russia.
Meanwhile, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow would not like relations between Moscow and Washington to nosedive into a war of sanctions. "As far as the latest sanctions-related intentions of our counterparts are concerned, we would not like our relations to nosedive into sanctions again. This is no choice of ours," Peskov said.