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Lawmakers: Limit Trump's Power Over Russian Sanctions

Lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to limit President Donald Trump's executive authority to change current U.S. sanctions on Russia. If signed into law, the bill would grant Congress the ability to review and overturn any alterations of ongoing sanctions.

On Feb. 15, five House Democrats introduced the Russia Sanctions Review Act. The bill has drawn support from both Democrats and Republicans and follows the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had stepped down amid questions over phone discussions he had with a Russian ambassador in December 2016.

The House Minority Whip, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, asserted that ensuring that Russian sanctions remained in place was not a partisan issue, the Washington Examiner reports.

"Every American, every Republican, every Democrat is concerned about Russia and what they've been doing to violate international law ... this is a serious matter of national security, which is why both Democrats and Republican putting this bill forward," Hoyer said.

Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York added that the legislation would "give Congress a stronger voice on this issue."

The bill has the support of the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California. It has also been co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Tom Rooney of Florida and Mike Turner of Ohio, The Hill reports.

"These sanctions enjoyed bipartisan support when they were put in place by President [Barack] Obama, and lifting them without a clear change in Russia's behavior would be nothing more than an appeasement of Putin's destabilizing agenda," said Schiff. "Not only has Russian behavior not changed, it has intensified."

Trump has previously expressed an openness to lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. On Jan. 27, the president was noncommittal on whether or not he would keep current sanctions in place, reports reuters.

On Feb. 3, Trump reportedly told former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko that he would not consider lifting sanctions on Russia until its military pulled out of her country, Politico reports.

The introduction of the Russia Sanctions Review Act follows a similar bill in the Senate. On Feb. 8, a bipartisan group of six senators introduced the Russia Review Act, which grants Congress the ability to review and vote on any White House proposals of sanction relief, CNN reports.

The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

On Feb. 15, the House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, stated that he would support the Senate bill if Trump moves to lift sanctions on Russia.

"If those sanctions were to be watered down, I would, for sure, support codifying them and making sure that they don't get watered down," Ryan told MSNBC. "Because I do believe Russia is a global menace, and their interests are not aligned with our interests."

Sources: CNN, The HillMSNBC, PoliticoReutersWashington Examiner / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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