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House Votes to Maintain Russian Sanctions

19 January 2019

The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Tuesday he would ask the Treasury Department to delay the lifting of sanctions on two companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to give Congress time to review the decision.

Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law, told Newsweek that, although Deripaska will lose majority control of his three companies, the Treasury's plan will benefit the oligarch, and by extension, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Aluminum producer Rusal is among the largest companies the USA has ever put on its sanctions designation list, a move that caused its shares to plummet. Direct and indirect ownership interest of the Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in En+ that has been slapped with U.S. sanctions, will be reduced to below 50%, the company said in a statement on Friday.

But even some Republicans who usually support President Donald Trump and his agenda didn't buy the argument that Deripaska still wouldn't in some way control the companies from which he divested his interests.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The vote was 57-42, but it needed 60 yeas to end debate, and so fell short.

As with Mnuchin on the Russian Federation sanctions, visits from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis to Capitol Hill failed to convince many Republicans that they should stick with the administration's position on Yemen.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) and the rest of the GOP leadership team also joined Democrats to support the resolution.

Passage of a resolution of disapproval by the House and the Senate would have prevented the sanctions from being lifted. Congress had until Friday to vote to block the sanctions relief.

After the sanctions vote, Hawley said Deripaska "is still in working control" of his corporate empire. Deripaska himself would remain subject to US sanctions. Court documents last year showed that Deripaska has had financial dealings with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted last year of tax and bank fraud.

"The agreement (to lift the sanctions) was requested by our European allies, including Great Britain and the European Union, so the company can continue to operate in Europe", Hoeven said. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), voted to advance it to a final vote. These included Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Martha McSally of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, all of whom have attempted to take a tougher stance against Russian Federation despite the president's comparatively more pro-Russia tone. "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". Interestingly, 130 Republicans sided with the Democrats to back the vote, The Hill reported.

House Votes to Maintain Russian Sanctions