Trump's move to ease Russian Federation sanctions survives Senate vote

Trump's move to ease Russian Federation sanctions survives Senate vote

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to maintain sanctions on three companies connected to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, protesting the Treasury Department's decision to lift the financial penalties.

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

Democrats in both chambers have slammed the Treasury Department for its plan to lift sanctions on three companies tied to Deripaska: Rusal, the world's second-largest aluminum producer, its holding company EN+ Group and EN+ Group subsidiary JSC EuroSibEnergo.

The 362 to 53 vote registers formal House disapproval of plans to relax sanctions against companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and comes despite last-minute appeals by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"Deripaska loses stock, but not control", Rubio said. Only 11 Republicans in the Senate voted for the measure, which failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the outcome of the Senate vote, saying he hoped it would pave the way for sanctions to be lifted that affect the Irish company Aughinish Alumina, a Rusal unit. These companies have committed to significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control.

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.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who introduced the sanctions resolution, said he asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to give Congress until February 28 to review the deal, but that after yesterday's Senate vote failed "the Treasury Department made a decision to go forward".

Deripaska, an influential businessman close to Putin, himself would remain subject to USA sanctions.

Senate Republicans who voted to let Treasury go ahead argued that the Deripaska-linked companies followed the law that Congress passed in 2017 by removing Deripaska as majority owner of the companies.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said before the vote that Mnuchin's answers in the briefing were inadequate.

No House Republicans spoke on the House floor in favor of the Trump administration's decision.

The Senate's Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, dismissed the Democratic-led resolution as a political stunt. "I have always felt we have to be tough on the Russians", Schumer said.

Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the bipartisan result sent a strong message to the Trump administration which he said was "trying to make an end run around Congress on an issue as important as Russian Federation sanctions".

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