While the GOP Congress has mostly fallen right in line behind their Dear Orange Leader, there are some signs that the veneer of support is beginning to crack. On Thursday, Congress sent Donald Trump a near unanimous bill that will test Trump’s patriotism and his allegiance to Russia.
The bill would increase sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. It would also prevent Trump from easing current sanctions against Russia. In the Senate, only Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul voted against the bill (Sanders said it could interfere with the Iran nuclear agreement). The House’s bill passed by a vote of 419 to 3. In other words, even if Trump vetoes the bill, Congress will easily override it.
Under the bill, the president is required to notify Congress before making any alterations to Russia sanctions policy, and lawmakers then have 30 days in which they can block the president from implementing those changes. The procedure, known as “congressional review,” is the most sweeping authority Congress has given itself to check the president on sanctions policy in decades.
Such matters have traditionally been left to the executive branch once Congress authorizes the sanctions at the administration’s disposal. Even in the case of mandatory sanctions, Congress usually steers clear of the president on matters of national security.
If Trump does veto the bill, that’s a tacit admission that yes, he is a Putin puppet. If he doesn’t, it’s a signal to Russia that Trump is no longer living up to the bargain. There is no winning on this one.
While White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she doesn’t know whether Trump will sign the bill, Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, hinted that Trump might veto the bill, but only to “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.” If you believe that, I have some Trump University diplomas for sale.
This is an interesting trap. It shows that Congress (at least most of them) doesn’t trust Trump with national security. If that’s not an admission of guilt on the part of the Republican Party, I don’t know what is. Now if only they would publicly admit that they are worried about the future of this country.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images.