Trump faced with his possible first veto

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A Russian sanctions bill that would tie President Trump’s hands on future relations with Vladimir Putin’s government is being viewed by White House officials as problematic and must be revised in order to give Trump the flexibility to negotiate with Putin.

Emphasizing the importance of “a constructive dialogue” with Russia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to endorse the deal last month, telling House Foreign Affairs Committee members that although “Russia must be held accountable for its meddling in U.S. elections, I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation.”

The sanctions bill, which was rushed through the Senate on a 97-2 vote needs waivers, say administration officials who believe that the bill is bad for diplomacy and especially bad for American energy companies, who would be punished for doing international business with Russian companies.

Marc Short, a member of the White House legislative affairs team, which is working to amend the bill, says, “We support the sanctions on Iran and Russia; however, this bill is so poorly written that neither Republican nor Democratic administrations would be comfortable with the current draft because it greatly hampers the executive branch’s diplomatic efforts.”

If Trump is forced to sign the bill, he will not be able to establish a broader cooperative relationship with Putin; but if he vetoes it, he risks an override by the two-thirds majority in Congress.

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