Russia, Iran sanctions bill could hit roadblock in U.S. House

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 20, 2017 4:00 PM

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia and Iran that passed the U.S. Senate near unanimously last week has run into a procedural problem that could prevent a quick vote in the House of Representatives, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

The "Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act," which also includes new sanctions against Russia, passed the Senate 98-2 last week, an overwhelming vote that could complicate President Donald Trump's desire for warmer relations with Moscow.

But the measure must still pass the House before it can be sent to Trump to sign into law, or veto, and Republican staff members said the legislation violated a constitutional requirement that any bill that raises revenue for the government must originate in the House, something known as a "blue slip" violation.

Trump's fellow Republicans hold a majority of 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, and a more commanding 238- to 193-seat margin in the House.

Democrats said the blue-slip concern could be easily overcome. They suggested that Republicans were stalling the bill out of loyalty to Trump, who praised Russian President Vladimir Putin last year during his election campaign.

"This is nothing but a delay tactic and the public shouldn't be fooled by complex-sounding parliamentary procedure," said Representative Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Spokesmen for House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the foreign affairs panel, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the path forward for the legislation in the House.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a co-author of the bill, said he thought the "blue slip" issue had been addressed and that he hoped the House would take the bill up quickly.

Corker said he had not heard of any resistance to the bill from anyone in the Trump administration.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown)