Missoula Current

Sen. Jon Tester this week joined Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio, among others, in sponsoring legislation to prohibit the U.S. president from unilaterally lifting sanctions against Russia without approval from Congress.

Tester's bill, the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would prevent President Donald Trump – or any future president – from unilaterally undermining existing U.S. efforts to hold Russian leadership accountable for the 2016 cyberattacks, as well as Russia's invasion and annexation of Ukraine.

"I am working with Republicans and Democrats to hold Vladimir Putin accountable and make it clear that Montana and America will not tolerate Russian aggression," said Tester, D-Montana.

The bill would provide a two-step check on any effort by any president to waive, suspend or reduce sanctions against Russia.

The measure would require any president to submit a proposal regarding Russian sanctions for review to multiple congressional committees, including Tester's Senate Banking Committee.

"Until basic questions are answered, and more transparency is shed on this administration's relationship with Russia, no president should have the authority to single-handedly roll back sanctions that were put in place with strong bipartisan support," Tester said.

The president would also have to certify that the Russian government has agreed to grant Ukraine complete territorial sovereignty and cease all cyberattacks against the U.S. government and its citizens.

Tester said Congress would have 120 days to review the president's proposals and pass legislation to approve or disapprove of his or her proposed actions. The president would not have the authority to lift or waive the sanctions while Congress reviews the proposals, Tester added.

The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Sens. John McCain R-Arizona; Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; Marco Rubio, R-Florida; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.