Washington (August 3, 2017): United States President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday morning legislation that levies new sanctions against Russia and restricts Trump’s own ability to ease sanctions in place against Moscow.
The bill is one of the first major pieces of legislation that was sent to Trump’s desk, and it represents a rebuke of the President by giving Congress new veto power to block him from removing Russia sanctions.
The White House announced the signing shortly after 11 a.m. ET, saying the bill includes “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions” that “purport to displace the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds.”
In a separate statement, Trump said he believed the bill to be “seriously flawed” but signed it anyway.
“Still, the bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” he said in the statement. “Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.”
He ended the statement by saying: “I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
The new sanctions bill hits Russia’s energy and defense sectors, and also includes fresh sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
The measure was signed into law after it passed with overwhelming margins in both the House and Senate — which made the threat of a presidential veto a non-starter — but it was not an easy road to Trump’s desk.
After the Senate passed the sanctions on Iran and Russia 98-2, the bill languished in the House for more than a month amid a series of procedural fights. Then the House added North Korean sanctions before passing the measure 419-3, effectively forcing the Senate to swallow the new sanctions in order to get the legislation over the finish line before Congress left for its August congressional recess.
The House and Senate struck a deal to make some changes to the bill at the urging of a host of US industries and European countries, but Congress did not consider making the change that the White House wanted: removing the congressional review on Russia sanctions from the bill.