WASHINGTON — One-hundred and thirty-six Republicans joined Democrats to vote to block the Trump administration from lifting sanctions on companies linked to a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin. Among Ohioans, only Rep. Warren Davidson voted against the measure.
A spokesman for Davidson said the Troy Republican supported Trump’s policy “because he feels we need a policy that includes both ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks,’ and that this measure essentially includes both.”
The sanctions were initially imposed in April 2018. The Trump administration announced it would lift them against the companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska after reports that he had lost $5 billion.
Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Urbana, Bob Latta of Bowling Green, Troy Balderson of Zanesville, Steve Chabot of Cincinnati, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, Bill Johnson of Marietta, David Joyce of Geauga County, Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington, Mike Turner of Dayton and Brad Wenstrup of Cincinnati joined all four Ohio Democrats in backing the measure.
“Although I believe the secretary of the treasury has negotiated in good faith, I believe there are a lot of shenanigans the Russians are doing,” Turner said. “The targeted sanctions should stay in place and I’m not comfortable with the current proposal.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, cited “legitimate concerns” about the oligarch’s continued ability to control the company and “simply too many unanswered questions,” which is why he voted in favor of the resolution. But he did so with some reservation: “I was disappointed with the wording of the resolution. The negotiation and decision to remove sanctions on the company was made by career civil servants at the Department of Treasury, not the president or political appointees.”
He said it was “sad” to see House Democratic leadership embrace partisanship in the resolution “but partisan politics is the focus of the new House majority.”
Balderson, meanwhile, said he needed more evidence before he was comfortable lifting the sanctions.
“Lifting sanctions from companies heavily influenced by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska would send a message that the United States is tolerant of international malignance,” he said. “It is imperative our nation maintains a strong stance on Russia’s global economic activity; therefore, I voted not to lift these sanctions, against the recommendation of Secretary Mnuchin.”
Wednesday, the Senate’s effort to preserve the sanctions on three companies linked to the Russian oligarch fell three votes short, in effect killing the bill despite Thursday’s House vote. Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman was among the Republicans backing Trump.