In what’s become a regular weekly meeting with Ohio reporters each Wednesday when Congress is in session, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown discussed a new, bipartisan bill he intends to introduce as soon as tomorrow that will codify sanctions on Russia and require Congressional approval before sanctions are waived.
Sen. Brown outlined the legislation that has three Republican senators as co-sponsors: Arizona Sen. John McCain, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lyndsey Graham. As ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, Ohio’s senior senator plays a key national security role in overseeing sanctions on Russia and other countries.
Brown told reporters today that he thinks sanctions on Russia should be strengthened, not weakened, as many suspect President Donald Trump wants to do, given the tremendous support he’s given to Russia’s leader, who even Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly called “a killer.” Brown’s bill would bar the president from taking action before congress has a chance to weigh-in. Sen. McCain, who would have been on the call but for scheduling problems, said “every American should be alarmed” at what the White House may do. Ohio’s other senator in Washington, Rob Portman, isn’t on the bill, Brown said, but “we agree on the issue.
Brown said it’s embarrassing that President Trump picked a fight with Australia, adding others will have to “fix a lot of things this president, in an undisciplined way, doesn’t understand.”
Asked about the issue of sanctuary cities, a topic that’s made headlines this week in light of two bills introduced in the Ohio legislature, Sen. Brown was cautious in his remarks on them, likely because they are state issues, not federal issues even though the White House and Republicans in Washington want to outlaw sanctuary cities. One bill, introduced by a freshman GOP representative, was championed by State Treasure Josh Mandel, who already has his sites set on challenging Sen. Brown in two years. Mandel’s move to align himself with the bill represents the first salvo in his campaign against Brown.
A second bill introduced by a Democratic House Member, Rep. Ramos, would make Ohio a sanctuary state. The term sanctuary refers to local law enforcement not doing the work of federal officials when it comes to verifying whether people they come across in the course of their day are undocumented illegals. The Republican bill in the House would make local officials of sanctuary cities liable in court for damages or harm caused by undocumented people who commit crimes.
Sen. Brown said he’s going to let the legislature “do what it’s going to do.” He doesn’t think it’s good to take powers from police or firefighters to “score political points.” Brown said he’s against any more funding cuts to Ohio communities, as the state legislature has done over the six years of Gov. John Kasich administration.
In other news making news, Sen. Brown said, “It’s a Sad Day for Democracy When the Words of Coretta Scott King are Not Allowed on the Floor of the U.S. Senate.” The two-term senator was on the floor of the U.S. Senate to read a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King. The letter, first read by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was sanctioned for doing it by Majority Caucus Republicans, in her discourse opposing the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Session to become Attorney General, was read by Brown and others, who didn’t suffer the same consequences.
Mrs. King’s letter opposed Mr. Sessions being made a federal judge back in the 1980s. Sen. Brown read the letter in protest after the censure of Sen. Warren. Mrs. Warren was silenced from participating in the rest of the floor debate over Sessions. The final vote on his nomination is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight.
“If we allow open, honest debate to be silenced, we are not doing our jobs,” Brown said in prepared remarks. Brown was the first Senator to announce he would vote against Sessions, citing Sessions record on civil rights, voting rights and his oppositions to efforts to improve police-community relations.
“Republicans don’t realize how bad they look,” he said.