|Obama's Sanctions on Russia Puts Congressional Republicans in Tough Spot|
|01/03/2017||Barack Obama||Lesley F|
|keywords: Russian Sanctions Russian Hacking|
With his final hour sanctions against Russia, President Barack Obama has placed congressional Republicans in the difficult position of choosing between upholding long-standing Republican principles espousing a tough stance towards Russia and supporting President-Elect Donald Trump's positive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Democrats in Congress are finding opportunity in this fracture within the Republican Party by seeking to pass legislation that would make it more difficult for Trump to unilaterally undo the sanctions imposed by Obama after taking office. In doing so, congressional Democrats are hoping to put their Republican colleagues in the tough position of being forced to choose between softening decades-long policy toward Russia, opening the party up to accusations of hypocrisy, or defying Trump's desire to "get on with our lives" and forebear from punishing Russia.
Too Senate Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to Trump's wish to leave questions regarding Russian cyberattacks in the past. In a statement, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top-ranking Democrat, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), said: "Now is not the 'time to get in with our lives.' The executive branch has acted, but it is imperative the legislative branch now pick up the ball and move it forward. Congressional sanctions can complement and strengthen these new executive sanctions."
Congressional Democrats are likely to find support for their endeavor from at least two high-ranking Senate Republicans. On December 29th, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) released a joint statement in which they asserted that they "intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia."
Meanwhile, other congressional Republicans have been more subdued in their response to Obama's announcement. While House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that Obama's sanctions were "overdue," the Speaker declined to say whether or not he would support the legislation proposed by congressional Democrats. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that the sanctions against Russia were "a good initial step, however late in coming," but also declined to comment on the pending legislation.
Following Obama's announcement regarding Russian sanctions on December 29th, Trump released a statement in which he said that he would be attending a briefing with intelligence officials regarding Russian cyberattacks next week. In the statement, Trump asserted that "it's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things." He went on to say, "Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week to be updated on the facts of this situation."
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