Over two weeks into President Donald Trump's administration, it is becoming clear that Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have become the leaders of the opposition within the GOP. On Feb. 8, the two senators, joined by fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and three Democrats, introduced legislation protecting standing sanctions on Russia against future action by Trump.
According to The Hill, the Russian Sanctions Review Act would require Trump to notify Congress of any intent to lift sanctions against Russia before doing so. Congress would then have four months to either accept the action or draft a resolution disapproving of it -- during which time, the president would be unable to lift sanctions.
“To provide relief at this time would send the wrong signal to Russia and our allies who face Russian oppression. Sanctions relief must be earned, not given," Graham said.
"I think if there was a real threat of lifting sanctions minus the respect for Ukrainian sovereignty and meeting those conditions, my sense is that we would have the votes to pass that in the Senate and we would be able to pass it with a veto-proof majority," Rubio added, notes CNN.
On Feb. 7, Trump tweeted: "I don't know [Russian President Vladimir Putin], have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy - yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!" It was seemingly in response to critics who perceive a history of close relations between Putin and Trump, notes USA Today.
"[He] continues to oppress his citizens, murder his political opponents, invade his neighbors, threaten America’s allies, and attempt to undermine our elections," McCain said of Putin, notes The Hill.
"It's not an attack against President Trump," Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said. "This is basically to reestablish our role."