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Republicans Go Against Trump to Back Bid to Keep Deripaska Sanctions

The House approved a symbolic effort to force the Trump administration to keep sanctions on three companies linked to a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A majority of Republicans joined Democrats in backing the measure 362-53 on Thursday, taking an unusual stance against President Donald Trump. But GOP lawmakers could vote for the Democratic-sponsored measure knowing it has no chance of final passage because it failed in the Senate a day earlier.

Thursday is the deadline for both houses to pass such a measure. As a result, the Treasury Department will be able to move forward with its plan announced Dec. 19 to lift sanctions against three companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — United Co. Rusal, En+ Group Plc and EuroSibEnergo JSC.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who introduced his chamber’s resolution to disapprove the Treasury action, has said “serious questions” remain about the move to relax sanctions on the companies owned by Deripaska, who has ties to Putin and is a client of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

The Treasury plan would keep intact earlier U.S. sanctions against Deripaska himself, but would remove financial restrictions on the three companies following an agreement to reduce Deripaska’s ownership stake to about 45 percent of each company. Aluminum producer Rusal is among the largest companies the U.S. has ever put on its sanctions designation list, and the action caused its shares to plummet.

Democrats are questioning the administration’s motives at a time when Special Counsel Robert Mueller is continuing his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible connections to Trump’s campaign.