WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Long-delayed legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia hit another snag on Monday when the influential Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the announcement of a deal to move the bill forward was premature.
“We still have a little work to do,” Senator Bob Corker told reporters at the U.S. Senate. He said he expected differences could be resolved quickly but declined to give a specific timeframe.
Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate Democrats had announced on Saturday that they had reached an agreement that would allow a vote on the sanctions bill in the House on Tuesday.
House aides said the bill is expected to pass overwhelmingly.
But Corker said the announcement of a deal “seemed somewhat premature.”
“It’s not quite done, but it feels like it’s moving to a good place,” Corker said. He said issues included North Korea sanctions that were added to a bill including sanctions on Iran and Russia that passed the Senate overwhelmingly in June.
He said Senate and House staff members were still discussing the measure. “It’s very, very close,” he said.
An earlier version of the bill, including sanctions on Russia and Iran, passed the Senate 98-2 on June 15. But it never came up for a vote in the House, after President Donald Trump’s administration objected to provisions including a requirement that he obtain Congress’ approval before easing any sanctions on Moscow.
Trump’s relationship with Russia has been a focus of the first six months of his presidency after he called for warmer relations with Moscow while campaigning and amid an investigation of whether his associates colluded with Russian hackers to influence the election on his behalf.
The new sanctions bill is the latest in a series of efforts by members of Congress to prevent Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow.
The new version of the measure announced on Saturday added sanctions on North Korea but left intact most provisions of the bill passed by the Senate, including the congressional review provision.
Corker said he had been in touch with the administration since Saturday but declined to elaborate beyond saying he thought officials had come to a “fuller understanding” of the measure.
On Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump would examine whether the bill was offering the “best deal” for the American people and then decide whether he would support it.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Roberta Rampton; Editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman