New Sanctions Bill Stalls in US House

US House Republicans say the final bill and final language violated the origination clause in the constitution.US House Republicans say the final bill and final language violated the origination clause in the constitution.

US House Republican leaders said Tuesday the senate has to amend an Iran-Russia sanctions bill it passed overwhelmingly before the house can take it up, prompting Democrats to accuse the GOP of delaying tactics.

"House Republicans are considering using a procedural excuse to hide what they're really doing: covering for a president who has been far too soft on Russia," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, Bloomberg reported.

"The senate passed this bill on a strong bipartisan vote of 98-2, sending a powerful message to President [Donald] Trump that he should not lift sanctions on Russia."

But House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said house leaders concluded, in consultation with the parliamentarian, that the legislation, S. 722, violated the origination clause of the constitution, which required legislation that raises revenue to originate in the house.

"I strongly support sanctions against Iran and Russia to hold them accountable. We were willing to work with the senate throughout the process, but the final bill and final language violated the origination clause in the constitution," Brady told reporters on Tuesday.

He suggested that the senate update the bill to ensure it has no revenue provisions, after which he said he is "confident" the house can move it forward. "This isn't a policy issue. It's not a partisan issue. It is a constitutional issue that we'll address in a positive way."

***Delaying Tactic

Brady, a Trump ally, brushed off accusations from Democrats that House Republicans were using the origination clause as an excuse to hold up the bill on behalf of the president.

"Revenue measures have to start in the house," he said. "The senate can move pretty quickly to correct that provision and send it back to us. That would be my preference."

But Democrats said that house leaders could easily circumvent the parliamentary obstacles they have cited.

"If Republican leadership says we can't act on the senate bill, here's an easy solution: Let's introduce an identical house version and we can vote on that instead," Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.  

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who backed the measure, said Tuesday he thought they had addressed the origination clause issue before the senate passed the measure, and that his staff is looking into it.

When the senate passed the measure on June 15, senators in both parties said they were responding to Russia's involvement in Ukraine and alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and to Iran's development of a ballistic missile program, alleged support for terrorism and violations of human rights.

Under the legislation, new Russia sanctions could be levied on entities engaging in "malicious cyber activity." It would require the administration to explain any moves to ease or lift sanctions, and create a new mechanism for congress to review and block any such effort.

The legislation would also put into law penalties that were imposed by the Barack Obama administration on some Russian energy projects, a move in 2014 that came in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

On Iran, the bill directs the president to impose sanctions on any entity that knowingly contributes to Iran's ballistic missile program. Those who are sanctioned would have their assets within US jurisdiction frozen and would be barred from entering the country. The legislation would also target the whole Islamic Revolution Guards Corps for its alleged destabilizing activities in the region.

The White House has said it is committed to existing sanctions and has not taken a formal position on the senate bill.


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