Michael Steele Accuses GOP Senators of 'Collusion' for Blocking Russian Sanctions

Three metals companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska will have US sanctions lifted unless the Senate reverses its decision by Friday

Michael Steele Accuses GOP Senators of 'Collusion' for Blocking Russian Sanctions

In a victory for President Donald Trump, the US Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation to keep sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including aluminium firm Rusal.

But the result still represented a symbolic rebuke of the Treasury Department's decision in December to lift the sanctions on the companies tied to Deripaska, a Kremlin ally.

The 362-to-53 vote registered the lower chamber's disapproval of plans to ease sanctions against companies that are controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, the Washington Post reported.

In a 57 to 42 vote to proceed to a resolution proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer which would reverse a decision by Trump's Treasury Department to loosen the sanctions, a number of key Republican senators broke from the party line and sided with Senate Democrats, according to CNN. But critics of the agreement argued that Deripaska's shares were distributed in a way that he would maintain control of the companies.

Congress has the power to reject any lessening of sanctions on Russian Federation, but only if it has enough votes.

Under a 2017 sanctions law, Congress has 30 days to review the lifting of sanctions.

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 chose to go forward". Former Republican Senator David Vitter was also lobbying on behalf of the companies.

"The Treasury Department has not provided Congress with convincing evidence that the deal reached with Mr Deripaska truly ends his control", said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.

Democrats had been optimistic they would get 60 votes on Wednesday, after 11 Republicans made the unusual break from Trump policies and supported the resolution in procedural voting on Tuesday. "With the threat that Russian Federation poses to the United States, to our friends and allies around the world, Congress can not just look the other way", Engel said.

The sanctions ban Americans and companies with United States arms - like many global banks - from doing business with those on the USA blacklist.

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

"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.

And many House Republicans joined with Democrats in order to pass today's resolution.

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