Washington, DC (TexasTribune) — Every single Texan in the U.S. House voted Tuesday for legislation that will impose new sanctions on Russia and limit President Donald Trump’s ability to lift them.
“I cannot overstate the importance of sending a strong message to our adversaries that there will be consequences for their bad behavior,” U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, said on the House floor just before the vote.
The 419-3 vote is significant: It’s unusual for a Republican-led Congress to restrict a Republican president’s handling of foreign affairs. But Russia is an increasingly fraught subject in Washington, D.C., given that the entire U.S. intelligence community believes it was responsible for cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Democratic House incumbents and candidates.
And Trump has done much to cultivate a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, even amid investigations into whether his associates colluded with Russian intelligence to disrupt the 2016 elections in his favor.
Support for the legislation by congressional Democrats is no surprise; they’re looking to take punitive action against Russia to prevent such election-meddling in the future.
At the same time, many Republicans in Congress — who grew up on President Ronald Reagan’s anti-Soviet Union rhetoric — are dismayed that their president has struck such diplomacy with the nation’s longtime foreign adversary.
The Senate passed a similar measure in June, with near unanimous support. But this newly passed House bill is the product of an agreement House leaders struck over the weekend with the Senate. The Senate is expected to take up its own version of the bill soon.
The legislation the House signed off on Tuesday also includes sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
“Aggression against our interests will not be tolerated,” U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said in a statement. “I urge the Senate to take up and pass this important legislation quickly so that the president can sign it into law.”
Trump could veto the bill, but would be at risk of a veto override. Perhaps in a bid to avoid that embarrassment, White House officials indicated over the weekend that they would accept the legislation.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders walked back some of that sentiment on Monday.
“He’s going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like,” she told reporters.
McCaul said Tuesday that the legislation is crucial. In his capacity as House Homeland Security chairman, he said, senior intelligence officials warned him even ahead of the November election that Russia was culpable in cyberattacks on Democrats.
“I was an outspoken supporter of the need for a strong response then, and I remain so now,” he added.
This article was prepared by Abby Livingston for The Texas Tribune.