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Senate’s Feverish Sanctions Bill Stalled by House, White House

June 21, 2017 (EIRNS)—The bill to put new sanctions on both Russia and Iran, which passed the U.S. Senate 98-2 last week, is now stalled in the House of Representatives. The Senate bill was passed in a fever of self-righteousness; its main sponsors repeatedly justified it as "punishing Russia and Iran for what they’re doing," with Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee out-McCarthying each other. But the Senate had been warned by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not to pass the bill, and the White House has since sought to slow it down and change it in the House.

On Tuesday, House Republican leaders found a way to stall the bill: It is unconstitutional. As Bloomberg News reported,

"House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas said that House leaders concluded, in consultation with the parliamentarian, that the legislation, S. 722, violated the origination clause of the Constitution, which required legislation that raises revenue to originate in the House."

Brady gave the bill full lip-service.

"I strongly support sanctions against Iran and Russia to hold them accountable. We were willing to work with the Senate throughout the process, but the final bill and final language violated the origination clause in the Constitution,"

he said. Brady made clear that the House leadership is not proposing a sanctions bill to the Senate, but rather will wait for the Senate to pass a new one which cures the Constitutional problem.

The Republicans’ simultaneous announcement about another Senate bill, that chamber’s still-secret version of repeal of Obamacare, made clear they are willing to ignore the parliamentarian and Constitutional questions when motivated—in this case, to be able to pass legislation with just 51 votes and no possibility of filibuster. So White House pressure may be part of the sudden Constitutional concerns about the anti-Russia/Iran sanctions.

Senate Democrats immediately responded as "more McCarthyite than thou." Said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York,

"House Republicans are considering using a procedural excuse to hide what they’re really doing: covering for a president who has been far too soft on Russia."

Neither party has chosen to notice or address the furious reaction of U.S. allies Germany and Austria last week, against the sanctions bill.