Published: Sat, January 19, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

House votes to maintain Russian sanctions

House votes to maintain Russian sanctions

The U.S. House of Representatives backed legislation on Thursday to keep sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, including aluminum firm Rusal 0486.HK , but the Trump administration is expected to lift them as soon as Friday. 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. "Forty-five percent of a healthy company is better than 100 percent of a company that will fail", Shugerman told Newsweek, noting that the sanctions had left the three firms crippled economically.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky reiterated that Deripaska's influence over the companies was being limited and called the vote a "Democratic stunt", even as the 11 Republicans joined Democrats in the unsuccessful effort to overturn Treasury's action.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

But that result still fell short of the 60 votes necessary to advance in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 seat majority. "The sanctions must remain in place".

In pushing for the sanctions to be enforced, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said, "For a very long time, the Republican Party predicated its foreign policy on taking a tougher line against Russian Federation and Putin".

The Treasury Department's decision to accommodate Deripaska has drawn criticism in part because the oligarch has had longstanding ties to Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

He added, "There are some legitimate concerns about whether the sanctions regime is tough enough to hold people like Oleg Deripaska from basically retaining control over this company". A similar effort failed on a procedural vote in the Senate.

Democrats had argued that the sanctions decision shouldn't be made until after special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation, which has scrutinized Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The administration first delayed putting sanctions on the companies into effect and then announced last month it would lift them entirely.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mnuchin said, "We have been tougher on Russian Federation with more sanctions than any other administration". "I said there's not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here - conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC".

Having covered Russian politics in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I can confirm that Deripaska has been among the business leaders closest to the Kremlin since President Vladimir Putin's earliest years in power.

The Republicans who voted with Democrats were John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas; Susan Collins of Maine; Cory Gardner of Colorado; Steve Daines of Montana; Josh Hawley of Missouri; John Kennedy of Louisiana; Martha McSally of Arizona; Marco Rubio of Florida; Jerry Moran of Kansas; and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

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