This week, in a shockingly bipartisan move, the U.S. Senate voted 98-2 to pass new Russian sanctions and require President Trump to get congressional approval before easing any existing sanctions on the nation. The bill puts into law the executive orders former President Obama signed, it allows for new sanctions on Russian shipping, mining, energy projects, and a number of other things. According to the Senate, the bill was passed to punish Russia for meddling in our 2016 elections:
The legislation sends a very, very strong signal to Russia, the nefarious activities they’ve been involved in,” Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The bill, however, still has to pass the House, and there are rumblings that the Trump Administration plans to push the GOP to make it “friendlier.” According to Politico:
The White House plans to work with House Republicans on administration-friendly changes to the Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia and curbs President Donald Trump’s power to ease penalties against Moscow, according to a senior administration official.
The White House is concerned that the legislation would tie its hands on U.S.-Russia relations, a sentiment publicly expressed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson, a man who with a friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin, said the U.S. and Russia,”have some channels that are open where we’re starting to talk, and I think what I wouldn’t want to do is close the channels off with something new.” Interesting that he is more worried about making Putin our homie than he is protecting the integrity of our democracy, but that seems to be a common theme with this administration.
It’s hard to believe that House Republicans would go along with easing the sanctions against a country that attacked our democracy, but it is entirely possible. The House has long been the place where party takes precedence over country. Conservative representatives, worried about re-election campaigns, are fawning all over the POTUS because they know their base still overwhelmingly supports him. And with that unwavering support of the president comes the denial that the Russians did anything during our election, which is a direct result of Trump repeatedly calling the attack “fake news.”
If Paul Ryan’s House waters down these sanctions, they will be signaling to the American people that they give zero fucks about our country. A sentiment Senator Tim Kaine expressed when he said he is very concerned that the House is going to do exactly what their daddy wants, but there’s nothing he can really do about it:
I’m concerned about it, but I don’t really have the ability to dictate what the White House says to the House. I can’t imagine the House would want to be apologists for Russian behavior after the combined weight of the intelligence communities all weighing in saying, ‘Look, they attacked the United States’.
We shall see, but from what we know about modern-day Republicans, it’s not looking good for the United States’ democracy, that’s for sure.