US House Approves Resolution to Block US Sanctions Relief for Russian Companies

US House Approves Resolution to Block US Sanctions Relief for Russian Companies

Legislation seeking to keep sanctions in place on companies tied to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including the giant aluminum firm Rusal (0486.HK), stalled in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, a victory for the Trump administration.

The House of Representatives will vote on a similar measure Thursday.

The Trump administration pushed Republican lawmakers not to support the resolution introduced by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, which would have prevented the administration from lifting the sanctions. Eleven Republicans joined 46 Democrats to vote for cloture on the bill, but they fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to end debate.

"Today I voted to reinstate sanctions on certain Russian companies". Two of the companies taking over Deripaska's shares would be the Swiss commodities firm Glencore, which has done business with Deripaska for years and owns a small stake in the Russian oil company Rosneft, and the Russian bank VTB, which has been nicknamed Putin's piggy bank.

In 2017, Trump signed a bill granting Congress the power to halt the weakening of any sanctions on Russian Federation by his administration within 30 days of announcement.

Congress had until Friday to vote to block the sanctions relief.

Democrats' attempt to undermine President Trump's decisions on Russian Federation sanctions went down to defeat in the Senate on Wednesday as they weren't able to win over enough Republicans to overcome a GOP filibuster.

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"Congress can not just look the other way when the administration rushes a decision like this", said House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.

Treasury's decision to lift the sanctions came after a months-long lobbying effort from the companies and EN+ Group chairman Lord Barker of Battle, a member of the British House of Lords.

Brian O'Toole, an expert in economic sanctions at the Washington D.C. -based Atlantic Council, says that Thursday's House vote could make the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) more cautious when it decides whom to sanction in the future. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the classified briefing for House members declaring it "one of the worst" briefings she'd been to in the Trump administration.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, backed the resolution.

"Because we can not be sure we have removed the heavy hand of this Russian oligarch, I can not support the delisting of these sanctioned entities at this point and time", Rep McCaul said.

"We respect different views in U.S. on sanctions, but our focus has always been on protecting jobs and livelihoods in Ireland and European Union", he said on Twitter.

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