Russia Sanctions Bill Hits a Snag in Senate

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WASHINGTON — Congress’s push to enact far-reaching sanctions against Russia suffered another stumble on Wednesday when Senate Republicans raised concerns about a House bill — passed overwhelmingly one day earlier — that would also punish North Korea.

The complication was the latest detour in the legislation’s journey through the Capitol. As the Trump administration lobbied against a measure that would sharply limit the president’s ability to lift or suspend sanctions on his own, the bill languished in the House for weeks over a hail of technical holdups and procedural wrangling.

But after the House voted on Tuesday, 419 to 3, to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, supporters seemed confident that the legislation would reach President Trump’s desk in short order. It would force Mr. Trump into an uncomfortable choice, beneath the cloud of Russia-flecked scandal: whether to sign a bill his team has opposed or to honor Moscow’s wishes by seeking to scuttle the efforts of a Republican-led Congress. The president’s team has argued that the White House needed flexibility to pursue a less confrontational approach to Russia.

The Senate was an unlikely source of further bottlenecking. Last month, the chamber passed a similar package of sanctions against Russia and Iran nearly unanimously. But after House leaders from both parties and Senate Democrats cheered an agreement last weekend to break the impasse — in part by including House-led sanctions against North Korea — Senate Republicans were more reserved.

On Wednesday, Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained why.

“We expressed concerns about it,” Mr. Corker said of the addition of North Korea to the House plan, citing a desire for greater Senate input into placing sanctions on the country. “They decided to add it. I don’t take affront.”

House Republicans projected outrage on Wednesday at the possibility of failing to send the bill to the president before lawmakers left for the August recess.

Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called any further delays over North Korea “completely unacceptable.”

Matt Sparks, a spokesman for Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, lamented that any effort from Mr. Corker to strip out the North Korea provisions “would ensure the bill does not become law” before the recess.

Democrats have gone a step further, suggesting that Senate Republicans were erecting roadblocks to protect the White House from legislation it abhors.

Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Corker’s remarks amounted to “yet another delay generated by Republicans to prevent this bill from landing on the president’s desk before we leave for the recess.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Corker was more receptive than many colleagues to the administration’s position — articulated by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson — that the White House deserved time to establish a more collaborative relationship with Russia. Some prominent Russia hawks within Mr. Trump’s own party, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, have pushed for swifter action.

But in recent months, Mr. Corker has insisted that he, too, wants to punish Russia for its aggression toward its neighbors and for interfering in last year’s American election.

He played down the magnitude of any disagreements with House leaders on Wednesday, predicting that Mr. Trump will still be left with an uncomfortable decision.

“The news of the day is, the Russia sanctions bill will become law,” Mr. Corker said, before boarding a subway car in the Capitol. “O.K.?”