Liz Cheney Slams Trump Admin. Proposal to Lift Certain Russian Sanctions

'Putin’s cronies—as well as the entities that they control ... should remain sanctioned as long as these malign activities continue'

Rep. Liz Cheney / Getty

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) on Friday said she disapproved of the Trump administration's proposal to terminate sanctions on companies connected with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Cheney, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, outlined her support for H.J. Res. 30, which is a "joint resolution [that] expresses disapproval of the Office of Foreign Assets Control's report to Congress."

The administration's report "intends to terminate sanctions imposed on En+ Group plc, UC Rusal plc, and JSC EuroSibEnergo, companies connected to sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska," according to text of the resolution.

"The Kremlin supports a murderous leader in Syria. It attempted to carry out an assassination on British soil using a military-grade nerve agent. Just this past November, it opened fire on and seized Ukrainian naval ships off the coast of Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014," Cheney said in a statement. "This noxious behavior is nothing new. It has long been the defining feature of the Kremlin’s ruthless foreign policy."

A majority of House Republicans, 136, joined Democrats on Thursday to vote 362 to 53 in an effort to block the Treasury Department from lifting sanctions against the companies controlled by Deripaska.

"Vladimir Putin’s cronies—as well as the entities that they control or influence to feed their schemes—should remain sanctioned as long as these malign activities continue," Cheney added. "That includes Oleg Deripaska and the companies he is involved in."

The resolution was initiated after the Treasury Department announced plans in December to lift sanctions, the Washington Post reports:

Treasury last month said it intended to lift sanctions the U.S. imposed last year against Deripaska’s companies, including a major aluminum producer, while keeping sanctions intact against Deripaska himself. The company sanctions initially caused havoc with global aluminum prices, prompting European allies to complain.

Treasury said it was prepared to lift the company sanctions because Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership below 50 percent. His reduced stake would protect the companies "from the controlling influence of a Kremlin insider," Treasury said, adding that the companies had been sanctioned "solely because they were majority-owned or controlled by Deripaska."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) and the rest of the GOP leadership team also joined Democrats to support the resolution.

"I don’t believe this issue should divide our two parties. In fact, it should unite us … Congress must guard against playing partisan politics with sanctions," said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who previously served as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, where he led an effort to improve cybersecurity in the wake of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections.

"I think many members find Treasury’s case for delisting these particular Russia companies to have an argument, but not very compelling," he added. "Because we cannot be sure that we have removed the heavy hand of this Russian oligarch, I cannot support the delisting of these sanctioned entities at this point in time and therefore I support this resolution."

The effort in the House will not block the Treasury Department from easing the sanctions as Democrats narrowly failed to pass a similar measure in the Senate on Wednesday.