Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The House-Senate deal made on Monday on must-pass defense legislation would impose sanctions against companies helping Russia complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.

Why it matters: Critics contend the project will bolster Russia's leverage in Europe plus erode energy security and Ukrainian access to Russian gas.

But, but, but: The Trump administration, which opposes the project, has not imposed sanctions under existing authorities.

  • Last year Trump softened U.S. criticism toward the project, breaking with the years-long State Department posture.

What they're saying: GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said via Twitter late last night that he would work with the administration to "make sure these sanctions are fully implemented and any violators are tracked and duly designated."

  • He worked with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on the provision.

The intrigue: The project is well under construction, so it's unclear if the bill will prove anything more than symbolic.

  • "In October, Denmark gave its long-delayed permission for the pipeline to be built in its waters, clearing a final hurdle for a project that is more than 80 per cent finished," the Financial Times reports.
  • However, their piece notes that sanctions could slow the development.

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