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 GrahamSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Suspects in journalist's disappearance linked to Saudi crown prince: report Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' MORE (R-S.C.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Turkish police have 'certain evidence' missing Saudi journalist was killed: report MORE (D-Md.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Dems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism MORE (R-Fla.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (D-Ohio), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainComey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race Live coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate Is there difference between good and bad online election targeting? MORE (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight 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 McConnellGraham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' 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 Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms 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.”