Lawmakers struggling to develop a response to Trump-Putin
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is producing an unusual outpouring of bills, resolutions and new sanctions proposals to push back at President Donald Trump's approach to Vladimir Putin, shore up relations with NATO allies and prevent Russian interference in the midterm election.
But it remains uncertain if any of their efforts will yield results. Lawmakers are struggling with internal party divisions as well as their own onslaught of proposals as they try to move beyond a symbolic rebuke of Trump's interactions with the Russian president and exert influence both at home and abroad. And while many Democrats are eager for quick votes, some Republicans prefer none at all.
As Trump and Putin weigh another face-to-face meeting, lawmakers in both parties — particularly in the Senate — appear motivated to act.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a rare warning that Russia "better quit messing around" in U.S. elections as he tasked two Senate committees to start working on sanctions-related legislation and other measures to deter Russia.
In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan joined McConnell in saying that Putin would not be welcome on Capitol Hill, though he did not push forward any Russia-related legislation before his chamber recessed for August.
Still, the past few weeks have been one of the rare moments in the Trump era that Republicans and Democrats have jointly asserted the role of Congress as a counterweight to the administration.
"You look at the action of Congress since the summit in Helsinki, you find Democrats and Republicans both standing up and saying no," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in an interview on C-SPAN with The Associated Press and The Washington Post.
For starters, there's a bipartisan push from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and others to "explicitly prohibit" the president from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval.