Ryan Says Procedural Issue Holding Up Russia Sanctions Bill

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said procedural hurdles are holding back the lower chamber from sending a bill placing stronger sanctions on Russia back to the Senate, but he would like to see it passed as soon as possible, during a press conference Wednesday.

“You know me on this issue, I’m a Russia hawk, I believe in strong, bold Russian sanctions. We want to move this Russia sanctions bill. As you know, there is a constitutional issue. We call this blue slip,” he told reporters. “Right now, we don’t have unanimous consent with our friends on the other side of the aisle to move that back to the Senate — it’s a procedural concern they have.”

The sanctions bill hit a roadblock in June when House aides flagged the Senate-passed measure for potentially violating a rule requiring all revenue-raising bills originate in the House. Ryan said he feels it’s important the measure proceed in a bipartisan manner.

“We’ve never moved a bill on blue slip issues in a partisan way — I want to keep that bipartisan. So right now we have a procedural issue, we’re working with our friends on the other side of the aisle to make sure the constitutional air in this bill is protected,” he continued. “There are some policy issues with respect to making sure we don’t actually inadvertently help Russian oligarchs and oil firms, but aside from those issues, we want to get this done and get this fixed and moving as quickly as possible.”

While the speaker asserted they are looking to work across the aisle on the issue, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer argued Democrats are not at fault for the stall on the measure.

“Apparently, there has been some assertion that we’re somehow holding up the bill. The majority leader could put the bill on the floor as early as 12:01 today,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters Monday morning. “He has that authority. I would urge him to do so. And if he puts the Senate bill on the floor, we’ll support it.”

Hoyer noted the Senate bill passed in a 98-2 and vote will likely pass by an overwhelming margin in the lower chamber.

“I urged the speaker to put it on the floor. The speaker indicated he had concerns about the Senate language,” he continued. “I’ve had discussions with the speaker as recently as last night, and I’m hopeful we can resolve these concerns with reference to how the resolution is brought to the floor.

Hoyer said he doesn’t believe the White House is supportive of the measure, but Democrats plan to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s in the House Wednesday.

Alexa Archambault contributed to this report. 

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