Senators move to limit Trump on Russia sanctions
© Getty

A bipartisan group of senators is moving to check President Trump on Russia by bolstering congressional oversight before he can lift sanctions. 

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTrump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea Blackwater founder calls for military contractors in Afghanistan Tillerson moves to eliminate special envoy posts at State Dept.: report MORE (D-Md.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE (R-Fla.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Ohio), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Senators blast internet subsidy program It is time to make domestic terrorism a federal crime MORE (D-Mo.) introduced legislation Wednesday setting up a period of congressional oversight before Trump could roll back financial penalties. 
 
The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia's meddling in the White House race. 
 
“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," said Graham, a frequent GOP critic of the president. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Lawmakers would have 120 days to pass a joint resolution of disapproval blocking Trump from lifting the sanctions. Trump also would not be able to lift sanctions while Congress was reviewing the proposal. 
 
Cardin told reporters on Wednesday that the legislation wasn't meant to punish Trump, but would help bolster congressional input and understanding of Trump's policy. 
 
"It's not an attack against President Trump," Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said. "This is basically to reestablish our role." 
 
He compared the legislation to a 2015 bill — which passed the Senate with near unanimous support — to allow lawmakers to review and potentially block the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
McCain added that lifting Russia sanctions would send the "wrong message" to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
 
"[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. 
 
Under the legislation Trump would also need to certify that Russia had cut support for separatist fighters in Ukraine or stopped actions "intended to undermine" the country's stability. 
 
Though Trump has gotten bipartisan pushback in the Senate over his friendly attitude toward Moscow, Cardin demurred when asked if the measure would ultimately be able to win over Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.), noting it first needed to clear the Foreign Relations panel. 
 
 
The legislation, which was first floated last month, comes as Trump's warmer tone toward Putin is under a congressional microscope. 
 
The president sparked bipartisan backlash for pushing back against Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's description of Putin as a "killer." 
 
Top Republicans and Democrats also warned Trump against lifting sanctions after the administration flirted with option late last month.
 
Asked if lifting some sanction was on the table, top adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that "all of that is under consideration," though Trump separately called the speculation premature. 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan: Graham-Cassidy 'best, last chance' to repeal ObamaCare Ryan: Americans want to see Trump talking with Dem leaders Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Wis.) also said last month that he believed the Obama administration was slow to slap financial penalties on Moscow. 

“I think sanctions are overdue,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “So I think they should stay.”