WASHINGTON — The return of Russian officials to the Upper Brookville estate from which they were expelled last year would be prohibited as part of a bipartisan Senate agreement expanding sanctions on Moscow.
The amendment by the Republican and Democratic members of the Senate banking and foreign relations committees is set for a floor vote Wednesday afternoon.
If approved by the Senate, the Russian sanctions agreement — a proposed amendment to an underlying Iran sanctions bill — would then require House passage and Trump’s signature.
It would beef up penalties imposed on Russia for meddling in last year’s election and initiate an extensive congressional review process should President Donald Trump move to ease or lift existing sanctions.
In language negotiated by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), it also would bar the Russians from the diplomatic compound on Long Island.
“After Putin directly and maliciously interfered in America’s presidential election, the notion that we would make concessions to them — like handing over access to this mansion on a silver platter — is offensive, weak and counterproductive,” Schumer told Newsday. “It is appalling that the Trump administration is even considering it, and that is why we need this amendment.”
Former President Barack Obama shuttered the Upper Brookville property along with a Centreville, Maryland, estate last December, when he also expelled dozens of Russian “intelligence operatives” and levied an initial round of sanctions against Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The Washington Post first reported that Trump is considering returning the two compounds to the Russians. The president has signaled he seeks warmer relations with the Kremlin.
The bipartisan nature of the deal shows broad denouncement of Russian attempts to disrupt last year’s election, its supporters said.
But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated Tuesday he believes a move to further isolate the Kremlin flies in the face of the administration’s attempts re-establish ties and work with Moscow on Syria and the Ukraine.
“Our relationship’s at an all-time low and it’s been deteriorating further,” Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Our objective is to stabilize that . . . ”
Upper Brookville Mayor Elliot Conway said he wasn’t opposed to the Russians’ potential return to the estate.
“We have nothing against the Russians. They are one of the oldest, continuous residents of the village,” he said. “This is a matter for the State Department. I think there’s a lot going on that we’re simply not aware of.”
State Department press officials did not return requests for comment on the amendment.