Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

US Senate OKs expansion of sanctions against Russian Federation


"Russia is still associated with Trump, with the mechanics of his election".

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to allow Congress to block any efforts from the president to scale back sanctions against Russian Federation, and to step up sanctions against Moscow for interfering in the 2016 elections.

The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, according to a White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hailed the lopsided vote in favor of the Iran sanctions bill that he helped shepherd to passage with the Russian Federation measure attached, but he stopped short of echoing previous predictions that Trump would sign the combined sanctions legislation once it clears the House.

The bill penalizes Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by imposing sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.

Some of the sanctions were originally proposed by Barack Obama's administration, while others are new, but they are all meant to punish the Russian government for what US intelligence agencies say was an effort to damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by leaking embarrassing emails. "This bill is the first time Congress has come together since the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, to do just that", Corker added.

The Senate adopted amendment #232 as modified (Russia sanctions) to S. 722, Iran Sanctions, 97-2. The bill also mandates sanctions for individuals involved with Iran's ballistic missile endeavors. Regardless, GOP senators believe Trump would sign it, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen.

However, with the bill heading to the House, it appears that the White House is now working with House Republicans to weaken the legislation and restore President Donald Trump's power over the sanctions.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee first approved the sanctions Monday night, with the former breaking away from the president and his former campaign facing investigations into alleged links to Russian Federation before and after the election.

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.

Lawmakers advanced the measure just days after it was announced by Banking Chairman Mike Crapo of Idaho and Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee, both of them Republicans belonging to Trump's party, as well as the ranking Democrats on the those panels, Sherrod Brown of OH and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Yet Trump hasn't sought to rebuke Moscow. It also imposes new sanctions in a number of categories, including those "conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government" and "supplying weapons to the Assad regime".

The sanctions against Russian Federation are "in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyber-attacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria", according to the sponsors.

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