nsucurrent.com April 25, 2018

In 98-2 vote, Senate passes tougher sanctions on Iran, Russia

20 June 2017, 12:58 | Dan Bryan

Tillerson to Testify in House as Russia Sanctions Vote Nears

Republican Senator John Mc Cain has lambasted Russia saying it must be punished for alleged interferece in foreign elections including last year's US presidential vote

The White House is seeking to influence some GOP House members to ease up on the Senate-passed Russian Federation sanctions, hoping that the lower chamber will provide "administration-friendly" changes, according to Politico.

The Senate voted 98-2 Thursday to pass a bill that would enact new sanctions against Russian Federation and require the White House to secure congressional approval before lifting any current sanctions, Reuters reported Thursday. "Any idea of the president that he can lift sanctions on his own for whatever reason are dashed by this legislation", CNN quotes Sen.

The vote was on a procedural motion to attach the Russian sanctions provisions to a larger package of Iran sanctions that also has bipartisan support.

Crapo says Russia's President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly belligerent, nationalistic and autocratic.

The addition came with the White House deeply embroiled in crisis over whether Trump's campaign team colluded with a Russian effort to sway the 2016 election.

The passage of the legislation comes as congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating the nature of any potential links and contacts between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

Asked where Tillerson stood on the legislation, Corker said he wasn't sure, but noted that the bill "strikes a great balance" between executive and legislative power.

'This is a very, very strong piece of legislation, ' Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said on the Senate floor.

The Senate bill also would cement in law a series of executive orders signed by Obama and aimed at punishing Russian Federation for aggressive behavior, including its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatist rebels in Ukraine's east. "Today the United States Senate is asserting its [foreign policy] responsibilities".

The sanctions follow the scandalous departure of Michael Flynn as Trump's national security advisor.

"For too long, the message to Vladimir Putin has been that Russia can invade its neighbors, threaten USA allies, intensify its cyberattacks, and interfere with foreign elections with very little repercussion", said Senator John McCain, a strident critic of the Russian leader.

The Senate bill imposes mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

The sanctions come on the back of numerous rounds of other punitive measures taken by the US and the European Union in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of the country's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

House leadership has not yet decided when or if it will take up the bill.

The legislation also curbs President Trump's power to unilaterally remove sanctions on Russian Federation without congressional approval.

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