GOP chairman proposes new sanctions on Russia for violating arms treaty

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) unveiled a proposal on Friday to impose fresh sanctions on Russia for violations of a landmark arms treaty.

The proposed sanctions came hours after President Trump held his first high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Royce submitted an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that is expected to hit the House floor next week. His proposal would authorize sanctions on individuals who help Russia develop major weapons systems, as well as state sponsors of terrorism that buy such weapons.

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The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987, bans certain nuclear and conventional ballistic and cruise missiles. The U.S. has accused Russia of deploying such weapons as recently as February, but Russia denies it violated the treaty.

In addition, the U.S. had previously accused Russia of violating the treaty by flight-testing missiles in 2014.

“For years now, Vladimir Putin has blatantly disregarded Russia’s obligations under the landmark INF Treaty,” Royce said in a statement. “And it’s just one more example of Russian aggression that undermines global stability.”

The defense bill already has a provision warning that if Russia violates the treaty and fails to comply within 15 months of the bill's enactment, the U.S. "would no longer be legally bound by the treaty as a matter of domestic law."

Royce’s amendment comes amid a partisan fight over separate legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia and enhance congressional oversight of the Trump administration’s policy toward the country.

The Obama administration issued sanctions in late December as a response to Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. They also expelled Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland that the U.S. said were being used for intelligence-gathering purposes.

The Senate originally passed the sanctions legislation last month by a 98-2 vote. But House Republicans flagged the bill as failing to comply with the constitutional requirement that all revenue-raising measures must originate in the lower chamber.

Senators then approved technical fixes right before leaving for the July Fourth recess.

Yet the bill has reached another procedural obstacle due to House Democrats objecting to a provision that makes it harder for them to force a floor vote on the Trump administration’s Russia sanctions policy, according to aides.

Royce and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE (R-Wis.) have expressed support for the bill, but it’s unclear when it might reach the House floor for a vote given the lack of a resolution so far. Once an agreement is reached, the bill is expected to pass easily with bipartisan support.

– Ellen Mitchell contributed