Democrats in the US House of Representatives have presented a new version of a Russia and Iran sanctions bill, in an apparent message to President Donald Trump who is seeking to improve ties with Moscow.
Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday introduced legislation unchanged from what was passed nearly unanimously by the Senate on June 15.
Senators voted 98-2 to pass the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, to which anti-Russia sanctions were also attached. But it has been stalled ever since.
The legislation is labeled as a House bill to avoid a procedural issue that prompted House Republican leaders to send the measure back to the Senate.
Democrats are suggesting that the delay is intentionally engineered by Republicans out of loyalty for President Donald Trump, who opposes imposing extra sanctions on Russia.
Republicans, who control majorities in both the House and the Senate, are not likely to support the bill.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, dismissed the Democrats’ action as “grandstanding.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The bill was tabled by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, and Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
House Republican leaders said they had not taken up the original Senate bill because it violated the US constitution.
The so-called “blue slip” violation occurs thanks to a constitutional requirement, which stipulates that any bill raising revenue for the government must originate in the House not the Senate.
“Dilly-dallying around about the blue slip issue was just a ridiculous waste of time. We could have fixed it in five minutes,” Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.
Trump has been a staunch supporter of improving relations with the United States
’ former Cold War foe, Russia. The intelligence community, however, has accused Russia of playing a role in the US presidential election held last November.