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Congress Alert

Democrat-Controlled House Breaks With Senate: Votes to Prohibit Ending Sanctions on Russian Aluminum Company


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The Democrat-controlled US House has broken with the Senate and voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 30, disapproving President Trump’s proposal to lift sanctions on three Russian-owned companies.

The original sanctions targeted Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, who held a controlling stake in the three companies, United Co. Rusal, En+ Group Plc, and EuroSibEnergo JSC. Democrats in both chambers sought to force the president to maintain sanctions on the three companies despite Deripaska’s ouster from company leadership.

>House Democrats – including “rebel” new Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez –voted unanimously against lifting the sanctions, demonstrating that even among those touted as breaths of fresh air there is unanimity when it comes to promoting Cold War 2.0 with Russia.

The House vote to disapprove of sanctions relief comes one day after the Republican-controlled Senate managed to barely defeat a companion motion by a vote of 57-42, leaving the fate of the measure in serious question.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had traveled to Capitol Hill to urge Republicans to reject the Democrat measure. Continued sanctions on aluminum manufacturing giant Rusal, warned Mnuchin, could upset global aluminum markets. The Administration also noted that since the sanctions were on Deripaska himself and not the companies as such, after the removal of the Russian businessman from control of the companies the justification for sanctions was likewise removed.

With the requirements of the original sanctions the Russian firms met, a reversal by the US would signal once again that the US does not keep to its word in international matters.

After yesterday’s Senate vote, Democrats argued that honoring the terms of the agreement and lifting sanctions on the Russian firm would be a gift to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "In the face of this global assault on Western democracies, of course we have seen that the Trump administration has been shamefully and suspiciously weak on President Putin."

Despite passage in the House, the vote being apparently permanently stalled in the Senate suggests that the US Treasury Department will move forward with its plan announced Dec. 19 to lift sanctions against three companies.
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