Senate overwhelmingly votes to impose new sanctions on Russia over election meddling

Rand Paul (R - KY) and Mike Lee (R - UT), the Senate today passed the Crapo Amendment, which imposes a series of new sanctions on Russian Federation over what it claims is "aggressive behavior".

Republican senators said Tuesday they expected Trump to sign the bill, which will still need to be passed in the House before it goes to the President's desk.

The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after US intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Tillerson was noncommittal about a package of new Russian Federation sanctions during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Trump administration officials, however, have expressed some concerns with the package. The bill also included a suite of sanctions against Iran.

It also aims to punish Russia's Vladimir Putin for interfering in last year's USA election, and to make it tougher for the White House to roll back sanctions.

The bipartisan agreement came in the form of an amendment to legislation the Senate already is considering on sanctions for Iran. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN. The bill would require a congressional review if Trump attempts to ease or end penalties against Moscow. The package is to be added to a bill imposing penalties on Iran that the Senate is now debating. That measure reflected Republican complaints that Obama had overstepped the power of the presidency and needed to be checked by Congress.

Obama's former secretary of state, John Kerry, had raised that prospect on the eve of the Foreign Relations Committee's vote on the bill last month. Whether Trump makes good on his promise to cooperate with Moscow on shared areas of interest, such as terrorism, remains to be seen.

The sanctions create a congressional review process if the executive branch eases current sanctions and imposes new sanctions in categories including malicious cyber activity and weapons supply to the Assad regime in Syria.

- Allow broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.

The measure lawmakers voted on Wednesday would give Congress the chance to block any efforts by the Trump administration - or any other president, for that matter - to roll back sanctions without the consent of Congress. Also covered by the sanctions are people doing business with Russian intelligence and defense agencies.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Banking Committee, said the legislation expands the Ukraine-related sanctions to ban Western companies from being involved in Russian energy exploration projects in the Arctic and elsewhere. Russian Federation is among the world's largest energy producers and exporters, providing large portions of the natural gas for Europe.

  • Leroy Wright