House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared to back down from Democratic demands over a stalled Russia sanctions bill Friday, but parties involved in the negotiations on both sides say no deal has been reached and talks are continuing.
House Democrats and Republicans have sparred for days over who is to blame for the delay of the Senate-passed bill that sanctions Russia and Iran. One of the sticking points has been over language limiting House Democrats’ power to force a vote blocking President Donald Trump from easing sanctions on Russia.
Pelosi suggested at a press conference Friday that she would drop Democrats’ insistence that the language be changed.
“[I] conveyed to the leadership at the time, I don’t like that. I want to protect the prerogatives of the minority in the House but weighing the equities, what was more important was passing the Russian-Iran sanctions bill. So we are on board to just proceed,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi added that if anyone was holding up the bill, it would be the White House and Republicans.
But that issue may not be fully resolved, and others are still cropping up.
Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday there’s been no deal reached over the ongoing impasse. And, Engel indicated, even if Democrats relented on their end, Republicans are still pushing for other changes to the bill that would hold up passage.
"I don’t think the Republicans in the House are serious about passing this bill," Engel (D-N.Y.) told reporters Friday.
"From what I’m hearing, it’s this change then that change," on the Republican end, he added.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested on the House floor Friday that another bill — a North Korea sanctions package the House passed in May — should be added to the legislation.
"I do believe that there’s a bill that moved out of here, that there’s an addition that should be added and that is North Korea. That came out of here 419-1,” McCarthy said on the floor Friday afternoon.
"I believe Iran, the work Russia has done and what North Korea has done, it would be a very strong statement for all of America to get that sanction bill completed and done and to the president’s desk,” he said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer responded that he shared that view.
Asked for a response to Pelosi’s remarks, AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), noted McCarthy and Hoyer’s conversation on the floor, adding, "We continue to have productive conversations with our Democratic colleagues to find a bipartisan solution.