White House dismisses Russia sanctions bill as unconstitutional

The Russia-sanctions bill targets Russia's energy sector, companies that supply arms to the Syrian government, and individuals whom the U.S. government
By Lila Alexander | Jun 30, 2017
The Senate-approved bill that would force President Trump to impose new sanctions on Russia runs afoul of a constitution requirement that revenue legislation must originate in the House, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday. When a reporter asked about the bill, Spicer said that "there is no new bill at this time" because "the Senate parliamentarian rules didn't follow proper procedure."

House GOP leaders are making this same argument. Last week, House aides told reporters that a bill that affects government revenues must originate in the House or else it is a "blue slip violation," so the current bill must first undergo referral to a House committee. But House Democrats countered that the legislative body has resolved the blue-slip problem in other bills in the past.

The Russia-sanctions bill targets Russia's energy sector, companies that supply arms to the Syrian government, and individuals whom the U.S. government has linked to cyberattacks against the United States. It not only slaps new sanctions on Russia, but also expressly forbids the White House from lifting them without Congressional authorization, marking a "significant shift of power" from the executive branch to Congress, in the words of Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the bill's coauthors.

The bill is currently stalled in the House, despite its lopsided 98-2 passage through the Senate on June 15. Only Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) opposed it. Corker said that he hopes for progress on working out the blue-slip issue in the next few days.

Corker told Reuters that Senate Republicans stand solidly behind the bill as it stands. "I've heard no one here have second thoughts, by the way," he said. "If you find one, please tell me."

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.