Five days ago, Congress sent a sweeping Russian sanctions bill to the White House to be signed into law.
Various White House entities keep insisting that he will sign it. Mike Pence, who is in the Other Georgia, says he will sign it “very soon.” But he hasn’t yet, and as near as I can tell from googling he hasn’t issued any statements about signing it. He hasn’t even tweeted about it.
For that matter, it appears he hasn’t said anything to anybody about Russia’s expelling U.S. diplomats. A president normally would issue a statement about something like that. But from Trump, not so much as a tweet.
Back to the Russian sanctions bill. Note that the bill includes a Trump filter:
The bill adds new sanctions on Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors aimed at making it more difficult for the country to export weapons, experts said.
It also targets Russia’s energy sector by giving the U.S. the ability to sanction companies involved in developing Russia’s energy export pipelines. The move drew heavy criticism from European investors involved in the construction of a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany that is known as Nord Stream 2.
The bill also limits the president’s ability to scale back any sanctions by enshrining into law sanctions that Obama placed on Russia in December for what U.S. intelligence agencies say was meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
If President Trump wanted to lift sanctions, he would first have to get approval from Congress. Experts said this “congressional review process” is born of worries that Trump would try to act unilaterally.
“The motivation for this part is to constrain Trump and to make sure he isn’t able to strike some grand bargain with Putin,” said Daniel Treisman, a political science professor at UCLA. “It is highly unusual to give the president no leeway to remove sanctions. But he still has considerable freedom to determine how to enforce sanctions.”
This bill passed both houses with broad bipartisan support. It’s like Congress doesn’t trust Trump, or something.
Anyway, it’s my understanding he’s got to sign the bill within 10 days of receiving it, or else the bill is considered to be vetoed, and Congress has to vote again to override the veto. The clock is ticking.