WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday he supported efforts to quickly move legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia and Iran that passed the Senate nearly unanimously but has stalled in the House.
Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “has indicated he wants to get moving on this quickly, and we want to honour that,” Ryan told his weekly news conference.
The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, which also includes new sanctions against Russia, passed the Senate 98-2 last week, a vote that looked like it might complicate President Donald Trump’s desire for warmer relations with Moscow.
The measure must still pass the House before it can be sent to Trump to sign into law or veto. The House parliamentarian found the legislation violated a constitutional requirement that any bill affecting government revenues must originate in the House, something known as a “blue slip” violation.
Democrats said they were sceptical about the explanation, noting that previous “blue slip” issues had been resolved in a matter of minutes.
Senior Senate Democratic aides said House Republicans had not made it clear which part of the complicated bill raised the blue slip concerns. They said any bill that involved sanctions and fines could be interpreted as affecting U.S. revenues.
Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a larger majority in the House than in the Senate.
Some lawmakers and congressional aides said the White House was concerned about a provision that would require Trump to obtain Congress’ approval before easing any sanctions on Russia.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Congress last week to ensure any sanctions package gave Trump the flexibility to adjust sanctions if he felt he needed to.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday the Trump administration would not take a position on the legislation before it advanced through the House. However, he acknowledged the White House needed to work with Congress on “some other areas” of the measure.
Ryan said the House Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs committees were reviewing the bill. He said he did not yet know if it would go through the formal markup debate and amendment process.
Democrats have said referring the bill for committee hearings and markups could delay it for months.
Asked if he supported the policy in the bill, Ryan said he supported sanctions.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernadette Baum