What Has Congress Done In Response To Helsinki? Not Much.

It's been five days since President Trump and Vladimir Putin's controversial meeting. So far, Congress has been mostly talk and not much action.
Posted at 2:40 PM, Jul 20, 2018

Members of Congress have had a lot to say about President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week. But what are lawmakers doing in response? 

On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution to oppose allowing the Russian government to question U.S. officials, something Putin suggested and the White House said it was considering. 

It's the only legislation Congress has passed so far in response to the Helsinki summit. 

And when it comes to the U.S. and Russia, Congress can only do so much. Especially when you consider that no one, including Congress, knows exactly what was said during the two-hour private meeting between Trump and Putin.

Still, several members have tried to put forth proposals that have not come to fruition. 

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons introduced a resolution to rebuke Putin's denial that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. It also called for more sanctions against Russia and for the Senate to conduct hearings into what happened during the meeting in Helsinki. That resolution was blocked by Senate GOP leaders. 

"My concern with this resolution is that it is purely a symbolic act, and what we need to do is not just offer symbolic resolutions on the floor," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said in remarks on the Senate floor. 

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul blocked a resolution brought by Sen. Bernie Sanders, which affirmed the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in U.S. elections and demanded Trump meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

"The hatred for the president is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance," Paul said in remarks on the Senate floor.  

On the House side, Republicans on Thursday voted against a Democratic effort to increase spending on election security, arguing that Congress has already given states enough money for election security. 

Republicans are hoping that a bipartisan sanctions bill introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen will hold Russia accountable for election meddling. 

That bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate could take up, would automatically sanction Russia for any future election meddling. 

Rubio told reporters, "2016 is now in the hands of this committee's work and obviously what Mueller's doing. 2018 is around the corner, and our job is to make sure what happened in 2016 doesn't happen again, and I believe it will if we don't act." 

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would alert the American public about any attempts by foreign actors to influence the November elections.