Senate Passes Tougher Russia Sanctions Overwhelmingly

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved new financial sanctions against Russian Federation on Wednesday for its interference in the 2016 presidential election and actions taken in Syria and Europe, according to media reports.The bill as originally introduced was exclusively about slapping new sanctions on Iran.If approved, new sanctions would be placed on Russians who supply weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, violate human rights or conduct cyberactivity for the government.President Donald Trump’s administration may work with House Republicans to ease tough sanctions on Russian Federation that passed with an overwhelming 98-2 bipartisan majority in the Senate, Politico reported.The Russia sanctions amendment was added to an Iranian sanctions bill on the Senate floor after a deal was struck earlier this week between the Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees.If it passes the House, President Donald Trump would have to either sign or veto a bill that the White House has had little response to so far. These latest sanctions are in retaliation for Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election.Earlier, Trump has indicated he is skeptical about additional sanctions and has been dismissive about the role of Russian interference in the USA elections. “But this bill is a conspicuous exception to that”, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.The amendment to the underlying Iran sanctions bill maintains and substantially 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. Once the Iran bill passes the Senate, the legislation moves to the House for action.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested Tuesday that the administration might oppose the Russian Federation sanctions amendment. “What I wouldn’t want to do is close the channels off”.The anti-Iran sanctions come following two sets of sanctions that were rolled out in February and May by the US Treasury Department over Iran’s missile program.The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, according to a White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.Require the president to seek congressional approval before lifting the sanctions.