Senate overwhelmingly passes new Russian Federation and Iran sanctions

The step would reportedly see new sanctions imposed on Russians who are allegedly “guilty of human rights abuses”, “supplying weapons to Syria's government”, as well as cyber attackers, Associated Press and Reuters report.

Trump has repeatedly and openly doubted the veracity of the assessment. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee had initially been hesitant to take it up, as the administration had expressed a hope it could improve relations with Moscow.

Tillerson warned Wednesday against passing anything that might tie the administration's hands.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers that U.S. allies around the world had asked Washington to improve relations with Russian Federation, and warned that further measures against Moscow could hinder ongoing progress in the fight against terrorism in Syria.

Tillerson's testimony is effectively a warning that the administration may oppose a package of new punishments that could be approved by the Senate this week.

The House has yet to vote on the measure, which was added as an amendment to a popular bill stiffening sanctions against Iran for that country's recent ballistic missile tests.

The agreement has also established a process for the Congress to review any attempt by Presidnent Donald Trump to relax, suspend or terminate the sanctions.

But if the Senate's vote is any guide, congressional support for the measure will probably be veto-proof.

It codifies the existing sanctions against Russian Federation which were established by Barack Obama's executive orders and imposes new sanctions against Moscow for its interference in the 2016 elections, besides aggression in Ukraine and support for the Syrian government.

The Senate also voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to add provisions to the bill allowing the USA space agency NASA to continue using Russian-made rocket engines and the 100 senators voted unanimously for an amendment reaffirming the US commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also were involved in the multiparty negotiations to draft Russian Federation sanctions that could secure a commanding majority of the Senate.

The measure came about after several rounds of negotiations between the heads of the Banking and Foreign Relations committees, as well as congressional leaders. Tillerson has warned lawmakers the USA relationship with Russian Federation is at an all-time low and deteriorating further.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also participated in the negotiations and pushed for provisions that bar punished individuals from using family members to get around the sanctions.

Citing Russia's alleged "aggression" in Syria as one of the reasons to roll over a new round of sanctions is another example of the inadequacy of the measure, McAdams argued.

  • Leroy Wright