House GOP chairmen want quick action on Russia sanctions
© Greg Nash

Two House committee chairmen with oversight of the Russia sanctions legislation approved by the Senate said Wednesday that they want to move it expeditiously — a day after one of them suggested a procedural snag would delay the bill.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) on Wednesday expressed confidence the House would take up the bill.

“One way or the other, we have to do it very quickly,” Royce said as he came out of a House GOP conference meeting Wednesday morning.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyPutin summit puts spotlight back on Trump's tax returns Senate panel advances Trump IRS nominee GOP looks to blunt Dems’ attacks on rising premiums MORE (R-Texas), who had noted the procedural problem on Tuesday, said Wednesday that there was a "desire for urgency."

Yet he also said the "preferred way" to deal with the issue would be for "the Senate to take it back up, fix the issue, the constitutional issue."

The sanctions bill was passed last week by the Senate in a 98-2. It also includes new sanctions against Iran.

House staff have raised a "blue slip" violation — a constitutional requirement that bills raising revenue originate in the lower chamber.

 

Such issues are generally worked out quickly, but Brady has said that in this case it might force the Senate to vote on the measure again.

Democrats have accused Republicans of coming up with an excuse to delay a bill for the Trump administration. The legislation would curb President Trump's ability to lift sanctions imposed on Moscow by the last administration. 

 

 

"Make no mistake about it – the 'blue slip' threat is nothing more than a procedural excuse by House Republicans who dredged it up it to cover for a president who has been far too soft on Russia," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerData confirm that marijuana decriminalization is long overdue Pollster: Kavanaugh will get Dem votes Democrats slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans MORE (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday.

There are ways for the House to deal with the issue that do not involve the Senate.  

For example, the House could establish a new legislative vehicle to accommodate the revenue-origination requirement in the sanctions bill causing the problem.

 

Royce said he is waiting to hear back from his Senate counterpart, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress has five ways to show American power against Russia History argues for Democratic Senate gains GOP to White House: End summit mystery MORE (R-Tenn.), for a decision on how to proceed. 

The Trump administration has reportedly considered lifting some of the sanctions imposed on Russia as punishment for meddling in last year’s elections.

The Washington Post reported late last month that the Trump administration is moving toward restoring Russian access to two diplomatic compounds near New York City and Maryland’s Eastern Shore that the country’s officials were forced to leave as part of the sanctions. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed concerns about the sanctions bill at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last week and warned it could undermine “constructive dialogue” with Russia.

“I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation,” Tillerson said