The US Senate voted to toughen sanctions against Russian Federation

"I certainly agree with the sentiment ... that Russian Federation must be held accountable for its meddling in US elections".

The initial Iran bill imposes sanctions on any foreign person or foreign entity that does business with an entity already designated by the administration that has a connection to Iran's ballistic missile program. The legislation also allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russians guilty of conducting cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria's government.

The Senate voted Wednesday, 97-2, to pass a measure that would toughen sanctions on Russian Federation and would prevent the White House from unilaterally removing the sanctions imposed by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama in 2014 and 2016.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Trump administration was "committed to existing sanctions against Russia" but was "still reviewing the new Russian Federation sanctions amendment".

During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Tillerson urged the Congress "to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation". Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only votes against the bill. House aides said they expected the lower chamber in Congress to begin debating the measure in the coming weeks, although they could not predict when it might face a final vote. The bill also included a suite of sanctions against Iran.

Tillerson had asked for some time to try and change the direction of U.S. -Russia relations before Congress levied new sanctions on the Kremlin. Republicans and Democrats have said they doubt Trump would veto the bill.

It's unknown whether new sanctions will negatively impact our deteriorating relatioins with Russian Federation, although it's a safe bet they won't help.

Previously, U.S. energy sanctions had only targeted Russia's future high-tech energy projects, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic, fracking and offshore drilling. Paul's vote was unsurprising, as he'd also opposed yesterday's amendment on adding Russian Federation sanctions to the bill. Sen. The White House has not yet released a statement on the president's reaction to the sanctions bill. When this bill comes to the president's desk, he should sign it, and join the consensus against Putin's regime.

  • Leroy Wright