Senate OKs sanctions bill to punish Russia

Jun 25, 2017, 01:09

"With overwhelming Senate passage of the Russian Federation sanctions amendment, the USA sends a strong signal to President Putin while ensuring the Trump administration has the flexibility it needs", said Senator Corker.

The amendment would also slap new sanctions on Russians involved in human rights violations, those supplying weapons to the Syrian government and those conducting "malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government".

The measure also requires Congress to review any effort by the Trump administration to loosen sanctions on Russian Federation.

Senate approval of the bill comes more than five months after US intelligence agencies said Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

The proposed legislation seeks to penalize Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 USA presidential elections, involvement in Syria's civil war and annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.

The measures need the approval of the House of Representatives and to be signed into law by President Trump, although they are thought to have enough Congressional support to override any veto.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will hold a vote to add the amendment to an Iran sanctions bill, S. 722, being debated this week. They also target Russia's shipping, mining, and railway industries. The only two senators not to vote for the bill were Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

"I certainly agree with the sentiment that has been conveyed by several members from both parties that Russian Federation must be held accountable for its meddling in US elections", he said.

At the same time, he also said he doesn't want to preemptively shut down a potentially productive conversation.

In announcing the deal, the four senators cited Russia's meddling with last year's election, as well as its actions in Ukraine and Syria. Also included in the bill is an amendment strengthening sanctions for Russian officials who support cyberattacks against the USA and its allies. The Senate's move sent a clear signal to the White House that any conciliatory actions toward the Kremlin would have to go through Congress.

President Trump had said in January he would be open to lifting sanctions on Moscow if they assisted the United States fight extremism and Terrorism.

With passage of this legislation, the Senate reasserts congressional authority-while providing the Trump administration appropriate national security flexibility-and sends a clear signal to both Iran and Russian Federation that our country will stand firm in the face of destabilizing behavior and that Congress will play a leading role in protecting our national interests.

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