White House Troubled by Russia Sanctions Bill

As the Senate was taking action, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that while he agreed "with the sentiment that has been conveyed by several members from both parties that Russian Federation must be held accountable for its meddling in US elections", he "would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

Both Ryan and McCarthy said they were told that USA companies had passed the legislative framework for specific energy sanctions, oil and gas producers said, could hurt American companies and strengthen Russia's interests.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged on Wednesday to passing a "strong, bold" Russian Federation sanctions bill even as President Donald Trump's spy chief voiced concerns over the legislation that aims to punish Moscow for meddling in the presidential election. A deal was not reached in the meeting, according to congressional aides.

"Right now, we have a procedural issue", Ryan said.

If the House passes the bill and sends it to the president's desk, a veto is unlikely. The package required a process to be set up by Congress to approve any effort by the USA president to ease sanctions on Russian Federation.

If Ryan rejects the compromise, Hoyer said that would tell him that House Republicans "are in a protective mode, not a mode of assuring, as the Senate did, that we have significant oversight".

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"There has been some assertion that we are holding up the bill", the Maryland Democrat told reporters. Corker said. "Because they can do whatever they wish to solve this problem. It's the latest delay tactic", said Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Hoyer wants to present the original bill to the House without the limitation, and force a revote in the Senate. "Instead they're searching high and low for excuses to drag out the process, weaken the bill, and let Russian Federation and the White House off the hook".

Ways & Means committee member Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said he has counted more than 20 GOP members who have told their constituents that they think the president should release his tax returns - words that Pascrell argued mean nothing if they are not willing to vote to force the issue.

"Our legislation puts to rest all the technical questions and allows the House to finally vote on the same legislation that won overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate", said Rep. Eliot Engel of NY, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. "This is grandstanding and not a serious effort to resolve this issue and hold Russian Federation accountable". That means it would take time for the Senate - mired in its health care fight - to consider a new North Korean sanctions measure added to the Russian Federation sanctions bill. "This is a smokescreen to a bill that needs to get done now".

The U.S. energy industry has been lobbying against the bill and some Republican House members, particularly from oil-producing states, have said they might want changes. But he said the sanctions review requirement is a "very important" part of the legislation.

But Ryan suggested that the House might address these concerns with changes to the measure. "We urge you to be similarly vigilant as you broach negotiations on a range of bilateral issues with the Russians".

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