AP NEWS

Trump’s move to ease Russia sanctions survives Senate vote

January 16, 2019

Democrats’ attempt to undermine President Trump’s decisions on Russia sanctions went down to defeat in the Senate on Wednesday as they weren’t able to win over enough Republicans to overcome a GOP filibuster.

The failure means the Treasury Department’s plans to relax sanctions on three Russian companies can move forward.

Democrats had hoped the vote would serve as a rebuke to Mr. Trump amid ongoing questions about his approach to Russia.

They sought to use a resolution of disapproval to block Treasury’s sanctions relaxation on EN+ Group Plc, JSC EuroSibEnergo, and United Co. Rusal Plc, which have all been linked to Kremlin-backed oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he was able to negotiate deals with those companies to reduce Mr. Deripaska’s control, which puts them above the sanctions bar.

Yet Democrats said they remained worried about Mr. Deripaska’s ongoing involvement and said they wanted to send a signal to Mr. Trump.

“Do you believe America should take a tough line on Putin or do you think we should go easy on Putin and his cronies?” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, framing the vote as a swat at Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

But just 11 Republicans joined Democrats, leaving them at 57 votes three shy of the number needed to overcome a filibuster.

The move would likely have been futile anyway, since Mr. Trump could have vetoed any eventual rebuke even if it cleared Congress. It would have been difficult for Democrats to muster a two-thirds vote to overturn him.

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