US Senate overwhelmingly backs Russian Federation sanctions

by Abel Hampton June 16, 2017, 0:49
US Senate overwhelmingly backs Russian Federation sanctions

The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly - 97 to 2 - to add the Russian Federation measure to a bill sanctioning Iran for its work to develop ballistic missile technology, in a bipartisan rebuke to Trump's suggestions about improving relations with Russian Federation. It proposes punitive sanctions on individuals engaged in malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian regime and those companies who are directly and indirectly supplying weapons to the Syrian government, the report said.

The White House has not said whether Trump would sign the bill, raising the possibility of a veto standoff.

The measure is widely seen as a rebuke to Trump, as it hits Russian Federation with new sanctions to punish Moscow for its interference in U.S. elections, as well as over Moscow's aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

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.

Trump was especially effusive about Russian president Vladimir Putin during the 2016 USA election campaign, though his openness to closer ties to Moscow has tempered somewhat, with his administration on the defensive over investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the election. Those sanctions sought to punish Russian Federation for hacking that targeted the Democratic National Committee and state voting databases.

This new bill would also give sanctions imposed by then president Barack Obama via an executive order the full force of law.

The Senate-passed sanctions bill also converts existing penalties against Moscow into law, potentially making them more hard to remove, and prevents the Trump administration from returning two Russian diplomatic compounds seized in December by the Obama administration as punishment for alleged electoral disruption. Would Senate Republicans pass a bill to toughen the sanctions on Russian Federation and put Trump in the position of possibly having to veto it?

The legislation is backed by both Republicans and Democrats, and is expected to easily pass the Senate.

Since he started running for president, candidate Trump has been a staunch supporter of improving relations with the United States' former Cold War foe.

The only two votes against the Russia-Iran sanctions deal came from GOP Sens.

But Democrats said the message of the Russian Federation sanctions was aimed not just at Moscow, but also at the White House.

The Obama administration expanded sanctions in December 2016, after accusing the Russian government of meddling in US elections and harassing American diplomats.

Maryland senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told TWS that the White House might express some reservations about the bill, but he expected them to support it.

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