White House tries to get G.O.P. to water down Russia sanctions bill

From The New York Times — Written by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer

The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by President Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow.

The effort is designed to head off an awkward and politically damaging veto fight between the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress on Russia at a time when Mr. Trump is laboring under the shadow of multiple investigations about his campaign’s potential collusion with Moscow.

House Republicans, normally hawkish on Russia, face a choice between demonstrating a hard line against Moscow in the face of its misconduct and sparing their own president a potentially embarrassing confrontation.

On Tuesday, Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, lodged a procedural objection that effectively halted the measure in the House, and could force it to be redrafted.

But there is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for insisting on harsh sanctions on Russia, whose meddling in the 2016 election has only reinforced many lawmakers’ disdain for its president, Vladimir V. Putin, and it is not yet clear whether the White House can muster enough support in Congress to change the measure. Democrats are intensifying pressure on House Republicans to quickly clear the bill, part of a package that was appended to sanctions against Iran, that passed the Senate last week by a vote of 98 to 2.

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