Hoyer introducing legislation to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russian companies

Hoyer introducing legislation to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russian companies
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House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLiberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar Israel denies Omar and Tlaib entry after Trump tweet MORE (D-Md.) announced Tuesday he is introducing a resolution to prevent the Trump administration from lifting sanctions imposed on businesses controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

“Today, I am introducing a resolution to prevent the Treasury Department from lifting sanctions on businesses controlled by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who has been sanctioned for his close relationship to President Putin and activities aimed at harming the interests of the United States,” Hoyer said in a statement

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“Mr. Deripaska has been key to much of the malign activities Russia directs against the United States, and the Congress must protect the American people against foreign interference and corruption.” 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin held a meeting with members of congress behind closed doors last week to defend the administration’s December proposal to relax sanctions on three companies owned and controlled by the Russian businessman, who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence and President Vladimir Putin. 

“Secretary Mnuchin’s briefing last week raised more questions than it answered, and, notwithstanding the good faith efforts of individual Treasury officials, I cannot help but view this action in the context of the Trump Administration’s repeated deference to Russia,” Hoyer said. 

The majority leader’s announcement follows a similar one from Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (D-N.Y.) in which he vowed to force a vote on a resolution to disapprove of the administration’s decision.

“Putin’s government, one of Russia’s largest banks, and the Russian economy have a direct interest in sanctions relief for Deripaska’s companies. Why is the Trump Administration proposing sanctions relief when President Putin has not yet made any move to curtail or constrain his malign activities around the globe?” Schumer asked on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. 

Mnuchin huddled with Senate Republicans Tuesday to prevent any Republican defections to support Schumer’s resolution, which needs a simple-majority vote to begin debate. 

The administration’s proposal involves easing sanctions on the three businesses tied to Deripaska — Rusal, EN+ and EuroSibEnergo. Mnuchin said in a statement that the decision came after the companies vowed to provide his department with “an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control.”

Deripaska will remain sanctioned and his property blocked 

Mnuchin denied the sanctions proposal was in any way linked to accusations of ties between Trump and Putin.

“I would just comment that this administration has been tougher on Russia and has done more Russian sanctions than before, we will continue to do this,” the treasury secretary told reporters last week.