Amid rising tension in the House after Donald Trump Jr. released an e-mail chain between himself and a Russian lawyer, House Speaker Paul Ryan has declared he will pass a "strong, bold" Russia sanctions bill. Ryan intends the bill to punish the country for its interference in the 2016 Presidential election. However, President Donald Trump’s CIA Director expressed concern.
"I'm a Russia hawk," Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters. "We want to move this Russia sanctions bill."
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But separate comments from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested the Trump administration is attempting to weaken the bill, which passed the Senate last month with 98 votes. McCarthy said CIA Director Mike Pompeo informed him that the Russia sanctions package would affect the "ability to do his work and his job, a few elements of it."
McCarthy, R-Calif., didn't specify what Pompeo was referring to. He also denied the White House is leaning on him to water down the Russia sanctions bill. Any attempts to alter the legislation would face stiff opposition from congressional Democrats and even a large number of Republicans because of their wariness over Trump's desire for better relations with Moscow.
The sanctions legislation, which also would hit Iran with new economic penalties, is stalled in the House over a dispute that's led Democrats to accuse Republicans of seeking to shield Trump from rigorous congressional oversight.
After the overwhelming Senate vote, the bill stalled in the House over a constitutional issue requiring money bills to start in the House. A fix failed to satisfy Democrats, and Hoyer said he spoke to Ryan on Tuesday evening on a possible compromise.
If Ryan rejects the compromise, Hoyer said that would tell him that House Republicans "are in a protective mode, not a mode of assuring, as the Senate did, that we have significant oversight."
In the meantime, Hoyer said House Democrats on Wednesday would introduce the original Senate bill as House legislation.
But Ryan signaled that he prefers the amended Senate bill and he said House Democrats are responsible for the delay. He wants Democrats to agree on taking the final steps that are required to fully resolve the constitutional question.
Both Ryan and McCarthy said they've been told that U.S. companies have objected to the energy-specific sanctions in the bill, which oil and gas manufacturers have said could harm American businesses while strengthening the hand of Russian interests.
The American Petroleum Institute said late last week that the bill would expand a prohibition on U.S. energy companies from being involved in oil projects located in Russia to projects around the world that include Russian energy firms. In trying to punish Moscow, the group said, the bill could instead penalize major American businesses, potentially costing billions of dollars in jobs and economic activity.
But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, and other backers of the sanctions bill said those concerns could be addressed administratively and don't require significant alterations to the legislation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.