The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to keep the sanctions on three Russian companies tied to oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in what appears to be a protest against the Treasury Department’s decision to lift the financial penalties, Fox News informed.
The vote was plainly symbolic, because the Senate had already defeated a resolution to overrule the Treasury Department and maintain the sanctions. Democratic senators on Wednesday narrowly failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward despite 11 Republican voting with them.
In the House, 136 Republicans voted with Democrats, sending a strong bipartisan message of disapproval to President Donald Trump’s administration on Russia.
At issue is a December announcement from the Treasury Department that the U.S. would rebuke sanctions on the companies related to Deripaska such as Rusal, EN+ Group and the Russian power company JSC EuroSibEnergo.
Treasury Department has issued a warning that maintaining the sanctions could have a negative impact on the global aluminum markets or even persuade the Russian government to nationalize this company, thus shutting it out from any outside control.
Treasury Secretary Stecen Mnuchin briefed House members on the decision last week and Senate Republicans on Tuesday, all behind closed doors. Speaking after the Senate meeting, he said the sanctions “shouldn’t be a political issue.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said before the vote that Mnuchin’s answers in the briefing were inadequate.
“With the threat that Russia poses to the United States, to our friends and allies around the world, Congress cannot just look the other way,” Engel said.
House Financial Services Chairman Maxine Waters stated that the United States needs to make sure “we don’t align ourselves with the people who are undermining this democracy.”