Republicans get agreement on Russia, North Korea sanctions

Greg Nash

Lawmakers appear to have clinched a deal on slapping new penalties on Russia after a push to add in North Korea sanctions threatened to complicate the legislation’s path forward.

“The Senate will move to approve the Iran and Russia sanctions it originally passed six weeks ago, as well as the North Korea sanctions developed by the House,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday evening.

He added that after discussions with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), they had “an agreement that will allow us to send sanctions legislation to the president’s desk.”

{mosads}A spokesman for McCarthy confirmed that the North Korea sanctions will stay in the legislation.

The deal could smooth the way for the Senate to pass the legislation for a second time before they leave in mid-August for a summer break. The bill cleared the Senate earlier this year in a 98-2 vote but didn’t include North Korea sanctions that were added by the House.

Corker added that he also expects the House will take up additional North Korea legislation after they return from the August recess.

“Going forward, the House has committed to expeditiously consider and pass enhancements to the North Korea language, which multiple members of the Senate hope to make in the very near future,” Corker said.

The House easily passed legislation slapping new penalties on Russia, Iran and North Korea earlier this week in a 419-3 vote. But the decision by House Republicans to add in new sanctions against Pyongyang had gotten pushback from senators, who are working on their own sanctions bills.

Both Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday that they lobbied House leadership to leave North Korea out of the Senate-passed sanctions bill — which already included new penalties on Russia and Iran — but were unsuccessful.

The deal resolves what had become the latest hang-up of the sanctions legislation, where senators had fretted that adding North Korea could slow down the bill.

Corker told reporters earlier Wednesday that while he thought the matter could be resolved before the August recess, senators wanted broader action taken on North Korea.

“As you know, in the Senate one person can keep anything from happening immediately, and as I mentioned I happen to have some senators who want to weigh into North Korea. … But it’s not going to turn into a cluster. We’ll solve it,” he said.

The bill ran into a hurdle almost immediately after passing the Senate in a 98-2 vote, when the House parliamentarian said the legislation violated a constitutional requirement that all revenue bills start in the House.

After the Senate approved changes to address the constitutional issue, House Democrats then objected to a provision requested by GOP leaders that prevented them from forcing votes to block Trump from lifting sanctions.

A compromise reached over the weekend ensures that any House member can force a vote on a resolution of disapproval to block sanctions relief that has already passed in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the White House has reportedly raised concerns about the new Russia sanctions, as well as a provision that gives Congress the ability to block Trump from lifting sanctions.

Corker predicted on Wednesday that the bill would become law quickly despite the administration’s concerns.

“Look the white house doesn’t like this bill. The state department doesn’t like this bill. This bill is going to come law. … If I was over in the executive branch, I would be in the same position,” he said.

Tags Ben Cardin Bob Corker

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