House overwhelmingly votes to punish Russia for election meddling, and limit Trump

House overwhelmingly votes to punish Russia for election meddling, and limit Trump
President Donald Trump claims that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" should North Korea continue with its aggression against the U.S. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill intended to enforce more strict sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and limit President Trump’s ability to ease those sanctions.

The bill passed 419 to 3, with three Republicans voting against it – Representatives Justin Amash (Mich.), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.).

According to the bill, if President Trump wanted to ease the sanctions on Russia, the nation would have to meet certain requirements beforehand. The sanctions strengthened on Russia would be in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, and their interference into the 2016 U.S. election.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it will likely be passed as well, and then over to Trump’s desk. He can either veto it or sign it, but the House vote shows they could easily overturn his veto if needed.

The Trump administration has not indicated whether the president would sign or veto the bill, and appears to have already changed its position. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday, “The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place.” She added, “We support where the legislation is now.”

But by Tuesday Sanders back-tracked on the support.

“He’s looking over where it stands exactly at this point and we’ll keep you posted on the decision,” Sanders said about President Trump.

“The President has been very vocal about his support for continued sanctions on those three countries,” she explained. “He has no intention of getting rid of them, but he wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people possible. Congress doesn’t have the best record on that.”

A top official in the Obama administration admitted that they “sort of choked” when they discovered Russia was meddling in the U.S. election. Trump has made it a talking point to attack the previous administration for not doing enough to punish Russia for their disruptive actions.

On Tuesday, despite Donald Trump's objections to the legislation the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. According to voting records, House members backed the measure by a enormous margin of 388-2. It now must pass the US Senate before it can be sent to the White House for Trump to either sign into law or veto. Following its passage in the house, Senate leaders did not say Tuesday when they might consider the House bill. Meanwhile, the White House said Trump has not yet decided whether or not he will sign the measure.

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