The US Senate voted to toughen sanctions against Russian Federation

Cameron Gross
June 26, 2017

Under the amendment, sanctions would be imposed on Russians who have been found guilty of human rights abuses, have supplied weapons to the Assad regime or have conducted cyber attacks on behalf of the Russian government, among other categories.

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to tighten sanctions on Russian Federation and prevent President Donald Trump from being able to unilaterally ease sanctions absent congressional approval.

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 USA intelligence agencies say was an effort to damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by leaking embarrassing emails.

The White House said last week it has no plans to scale back existing sanctions against Russian Federation, as relations have soured. The Bill on Iran is due to come up for a vote as soon as this week.

In an interview past year with The New York Times, Trump raised questions about whether it was in the United States' interest to continue the sanctions on Russian Federation.

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The proposal was included in an amendment that must still win definitive approval from the Senate and from the House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the US Senate approved, by an overwhelming majority, a measure that would expand sanctions on Russian Federation and limit the US president's ability to lift said sanctions. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and ranking committee member Sen. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted against the amendment.

"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.

At the same time, he also said he doesn't want to preemptively shut down a potentially productive conversation.

The bipartisan agreement comes in the form of an amendment to legislation the Senate is already considering on sanctions for Iran. "I don't expect the Russian government to sanction the U.S. shipping industry or railway industry or metal industry. but [Putin] is going to try to find sectors on which the impact would be comparable". Regardless, GOP senators believe Trump would sign it, with Sen. Also included in the bill is an amendment strengthening sanctions for Russian officials who support cyberattacks against the US and its allies.

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