Senate GOP, Democrats reach deal on imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation

A senior administration official said the White House is unhappy with measures in the Senate bill created to limit Trump's ability to ease the sanctions without congressional approval.

Among those targeted are a wide array of what senators called "corrupt Russian actors", including those engaged in hacking, seizure of state resources, human rights abuses and supplying arms to the Syrian regime.

Congressional aides told Reuters that the House will likely pass the bill, and support in both chambers will be strong enough to override a veto if the president takes that route. However, he would have to reject new sanctions against Iran, which he supports, to derail the latest congressional effort to punish Russian Federation. The sanctions are in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, cyber-attacks and interference in elections and continuing aggression in Syria.

The sanctions are "focused on various areas, including the Russian intelligence and defense sectors, parts of its energy sector, and its metals, mining and railways economy", according to the Washington Post. Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders were the only two "no" votes. The Senate's move sent a clear signal to the White House that any conciliatory actions toward the Kremlin would have to go through Congress.

"We can not let Russia's meddling in our elections go unpunished, lest they ever consider such interference again, nor any other nation in the world", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

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

It's unclear where Trump stands on the Russian Federation sanctions amendment.

The White House said last week it has no plans to scale back existing sanctions against Russian Federation, as relations have soured.

The Iran bill is due come up for a vote as soon as this week.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had agreed "with the sentiment" of holding Russian Federation accountable but had urged Congress not to pass any legislation that could harm a "constructive dialogue" with Moscow.

Trump administration officials, however, have expressed some concerns with the package.

"I would hope to allow the diplomatic efforts to attempt to make some progress", Tillerson said earlier this week.

"I think we all agree this has been a rather partisan beginning to a new administration".

  • Leroy Wright