Democrats in New Bid to Push Russia and Iran Sanctions Bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Democrats said they would introduce a new version of a Russia and Iran sanctions bill on Wednesday, in a new bid to move legislation that has been mired in partisan squabbling for almost a month.

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee plan to introduce in the House on Wednesday a Russia and Iran sanctions bill identical to one that passed the Senate 98-2 on June 15 but has not come up for a vote in the House.

“It’s identical to the Senate-passed bill,” a Democratic committee aide said, but since it will be labeled as a House bill it would avoid a procedural issue that prompted House Republican leaders to send the measure back to the Senate.

Democrats accused House Republicans of stalling the bill in order to weaken it after the Trump administration expressed concern about provisions setting up a process for Congress to approve any of Trump’s efforts to ease sanctions on Moscow.

Separately, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said he wants to move a strong bill regarding sanctions on Russia as quickly as possible, but that the legislation still faced procedural and policy hurdles.

“Right now, we have a procedural issue,” and Republicans are working with Democrats regarding sending the bill back to the Senate, Ryan told reporters at a news conference. “There are some policy issues with respect to making sure that we don’t actually inadvertently help Russian oligarchs and oil firms.”

There was no immediate response from Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on whether they would support the Democratic effort.

The Russia sanctions legislation was written as an amendment to a bill imposing new sanctions on Iran over issues including its ballistic missile program. Besides establishing the review process, it puts into law sanctions previously imposed on Moscow via presidential executive order and introduces new sanctions.