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US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions

15 June 2017

A statement from Republican and Democratic leaders on the Senate banking committee said the amendment "expands sanctions against the government of Russian Federation 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".

But lawmakers attached a bipartisan amendment on Russian Federation to it early this week.

A White House spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment Monday night on the prospect of a Russian Federation sanctions deal, which would face an uncertain future in 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.

Asked about the prospects of a veto threat, the Foreign Relations panel's top Democrat, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, told reporters Monday that while "there's no administration that wants Congress interfering" with its sanctions policy, "I think we'll have the support of the administration" for any bipartisan Russian Federation deal that might pass this week.

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It also aims to punish Russia's Vladimir Putin for interfering in last year's United States election, and to make it tougher for the White House to roll back sanctions. So I would like to have congressional review on everything we do.

"This is a very comprehensive piece of legislation", Corker said late Monday night following the introduction of the measures.

The Senate legislation imposes sanctions on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The bill is expected to have strong support when it goes before the full Senate, and would have to then pass in the House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump.

When asked if the White House was on board with the measure, Corker hestitated, noting: "I have to believe that the administration has to at least strongly consider supporting this".

"By codifying existing sanctions and requiring congressional review of any decision to weaken or lift them, we are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President (Vladimir) Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions", said Sen.

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Earlier it was reported that the U.S. Senate is on the verge of a bipartisan deal to strengthen sanctions against Russian Federation.

In December, the Obama administration responded to Russia's provocations with a slate of sweeping measures that included the expulsion of "intelligence operatives" and sanctions on Russia's central intelligence services.

"These additional sanctions will be a powerful signal from two parties of Russian Federation and other countries that they will be punished if they try to interfere in our elections", commented the inter-party agreement the democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.

The 100-member Senate backed the measure by a margin of 98-2.

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US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions