A bipartisan group of senators is moving to check President Trump on Russia by bolstering congressional oversight before he can lift sanctions.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced legislation Wednesday setting up a period of congressional oversight before Trump could roll back financial penalties.
The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia’s meddling in the White House race.
“To provide relief at this time would send the wrong signal to Russia and our allies who face Russian oppression. Sanctions relief must be earned, not given,” said Graham, a frequent GOP critic of the president.
Lawmakers would have 120 days to pass a joint resolution of disapproval blocking Trump from lifting the sanctions. Trump also would not be able to lift sanctions while Congress was reviewing the proposal.
Cardin told reporters on Wednesday that the legislation wasn’t meant to punish Trump, but would help bolster congressional input and understanding of Trump’s policy.
“It’s not an attack against President Trump,” Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said. “This is basically to reestablish our role.”
He compared the legislation to a 2015 bill — which passed the Senate with near unanimous support — to allow lawmakers to review and potentially block the Iran nuclear deal.
McCain added that lifting Russia sanctions would send the “wrong message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“[He] continues to oppress his citizens, murder his political opponents, invade his neighbors, threaten America’s allies, and attempt to undermine our elections,” McCain said.