The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to introduce new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, but also limit the President’s ability to remove or abolish existing sanctions.
Trump would need congressional approval for removing existing sanctions, which would basically limit his ability to conduct foreign policy.
The sanctions bill passed 419 votes to 3 in the House, but must pass the vote in the Senate before Trump can sign it into law or veto.
“It empowers Congress to review and disapprove of any sanctions relief,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) on the House floor, ahead of the vote.
The sanctions aim to publish Russia over the alleged interference in 2016 Presidential election, involvement in Syria and 2014 annexation of Crimea. They specifically target Russia’s energy sector, banks and weapons manufacturers.
If adopted in the Senate, the legislation will need to be signed into law by Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump would sign the legislation, despite some speculation in the media that Trump has not made his mind regarding the bill.
“If Trump signs the sanctions bill, he will not calm down his enemies – they desire his impeachment. But he will inflict double damage – to relations with Russia and the European Union at the same time,” Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov said, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said new sanctions would prove ‘detrimental’ not just to the US and Russia, but other countries too.
New sanctions against Russia caused concern in Brussels with EU authorities urging U.S. lawmaker to coordinate their efforts with EU partners.
“Unilateral measures” could undermine transatlantic unity and have “unintended consequences,” the European Commission warned in a special address on Monday.
“We are concerned the measures discussed in the US Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests,” the commission stated.
Additional sanctions on Russia have been a cause of disquiet for many EU member countries, most notably Germany and Austria. The two countries issued a joint statement in which they spoke against US punitive actions against Russia.
However, despite the discomfort among Europeans, pressed between the U.S. and economic consequences of anti-Russian sanctions, that hurt the interests of many EU member states, Donald Trump will be the biggest loser after the new sanctions are adopted.
The bill will effectively remove the prospect of rapprochement with Russia, as well as Trump’s ability to pursue a foreign policy independent of his hawkish allies and enemies in the U.S establishment.