President Donald Trump is facing a looming showdown with Congress after Republicans and Democrats agreed new sanctions on Russia designed to punish the Kremlin for interfering in last year’s US election.
The sweeping sanctions package, also intended to penalise Russia for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, set up a collision course with the White House which has sought to ease relations with Moscow.
Mr Trump’s has consistently made warm overtures to president Vladimir Putin amid ongoing FBI and congressional investigations into any links between Russia and his campaign.
The sanctions bill is expected to pass on Tuesday, leading to Mr Trump’s first big decision whether to veto an important piece of legislation.
The White House objects to a key section of the bill which would allow Congress to review any future decision by Mr Trump to amend or discontinue Russian sanctions.
He would have to submit a report to Congress on any actions he proposes that would “significantly alter” US foreign policy on Russia.
That would includes lifting sanctions or returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York which president Barack Obama ordered to be closed down in one of his final acts.
Congress would have 30 days to decide whether to allow any sanctions changes proposed by Mr Trump.
There were conflicting messages from the White House.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new press secretary, indicated the president would accept the legislation.
She told ABC News: “The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting these sanctions in place, and we support the legislation where it is now.”
But Anthony Scaramucci, Mr Trump’s new communications director, told CNN: “You’ve got to ask President Trump that. He hasn’t made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other.”
Politicians on both sides concerned by Mr Trump’s statements on Russia argued the bill would send a message to the president to take a tougher line with Mr Putin.
But White House officials opposed to it said it would tie the president’s hands and he needs the capability to alter sanctions depending on how diplomatic relations with Russia develop.
If Mr Trump vetoes the bill it would lead to an outcry among Democrats and Republicans.
The lifting of Russian sanctions is at the heart of inquiries into whether there was collusion between anyone connected to the Trump campaign and Moscow last year.
Investigators are trying to establish what was said at a meeting between a Russian lawyer and Mr Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016.
All three men are due to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating, this week.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee during the election and released emails embarrassing to Hillary Clinton with the intention of helping Mr Trump.
But Mr Scaramucci revealed the president was still not convinced that Russia was behind the cyber attack.
Speaking on Sunday Mr Scaramucci said: “Somebody told me yesterday that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out the emails you would never have seen it, never had any evidence of them, meaning they’re super confident in their deception skills and hacking. Maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it.”
Asked who had told him that, he said: “The president. He called me from Air Force One.”
The sanctions bill targets the energy sector making it more difficult for US companies to be part of projects that also include Russian businesses.
US oil and natural gas companies have warned that could backfire on them and benefit Russia. It also includes stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea, which the White House is in favour of.
Senator Ben Cardin, the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said agreement on the sanctions was reached after “intense negotiations”.
He said: “A nearly united Congress is poised to send Mr Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message.”
A spokeswoman for Paul Ryan, the Republican house speaker, said: “This will hold three bad actors to account.”
However, the European Commission warned of possible “wide and indiscriminate” ramifications for its efforts to diversify energy sources away from Russia, and called on Washington to coordinated with its G7 partners.
In a statement it said: “We are concerned the measures discussed in the US Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to transatlantic and G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests.”
In Moscow, Dmitri Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, called the sanctions proposal “highly negative”.