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The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that will impose tough new sanctions on Russia for interfering with the 2016 presidential election. The bill also sharply curtails President Trump's ability to alter or lift the sanctions without congressional approval. The White House initially said the president would support the bill, but now that's not certain. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: President Trump did not address new Russian sanctions today during a press conference at the White House, and his communications team has sent out mixed messages whether or not he will approve the sanctions bill. On Sunday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated Trump would back new sanctions. Here she is on ABC's "This Week."
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SARAH SANDERS: The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place.
NORTHAM: But a lot can change at the White House over the course of one day. On Monday, Sanders suggested to reporters that Trump had not decided whether to sign or veto the sanctions bill.
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SANDERS: He's looking over where it stands exactly at this point, and we'll keep you guys posted on the decision.
NORTHAM: The sanctions bill on Trump's doorstep is one of those cases of bipartisan agreement that are hard to come by in Washington nowadays. Democrats and Republicans in the House came down clearly in favor of punishing sanctions against Russia for meddling in the presidential elections and its military activities in Ukraine and Syria. But it was not a clear shot getting to this point, and the bill hit a few snags and required a few compromises before the vote, including grafting other sanctions against Iran and North Korea onto the final version.
There was pushback from the European Union, concerned new economic restrictions would be irreversible once the bill became law, and oil and gas companies worried about their ability to do business with Russian partners in the future. The White House was equally unhappy. Trump had been trying to repair relations with Russia, and the bill clips his wings because it mandates that Congress would have to approve any move by him to ease or overturn the sanctions.
The overwhelming vote in the House leaves Trump with a dilemma - accepting sanctions on Russia or vetoing a bill which has broad bipartisan support. The bill now goes to the Senate, where an earlier version passed overwhelmingly. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.