US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions

The Republican-led Senate unanimously approved a measure emphasizing the importance of NATO's mutual defense pact, a not-so-subtle dig at President Donald Trump. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only votes against the bill.

Earlier Moscow said that the plans of the American senators threaten to turn into a new "sanctions peak".

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.

"Today the United States Senate is asserting its responsibilities as it relates to foreign policy", Corker added on the Senate floor. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

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Corker, too, sounded pleased that the bill effectively ties a president's hands when it comes to unwinding certain sanctions on Russian Federation. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, Russians to date have paid no price for it.

Finally, it provides that no sanctions can be lifted by the President without Congressional review.

The bill now heads to the House, where its fate is less certain.

"I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation", Tillerson said Wednesday during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

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The bipartisan support for the year's most significant GOP-backed limitation on Trump comes as the White House remains silent on the plan to sanction Moscow, even as President Putin pushes back at USA intelligence officials' conclusion that Russian actors conducted cyberattacks to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

"It's particularly significant that a bipartisan coalition is seeking to reestablish Congress, not the president, as the final arbiter of sanctions relief", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

As for those opposed to the measure, Sen.

Engel was unimpressed."The only thing that Russian Federation understands is tough talk and if they think we are somehow willing to relax the sanctions on them before they've complied with the Minsk framework and left Crimea, then I think it will just encourage Putin to continue his bullying and who knows where he will strike next". "It is unacceptable for Russian Federation to interfere in our elections here in the United States, or anywhere around the world". In a statement, Sanders said that he opposed the bill not because of the new Russian Federation sanctions, which he supports, but because of the additional sanctions against Iran that were also part of the bill.

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  • Nancy Warren