Senate passes sweeping sanctions bill targeting Iran, Russia

Senate passes sweeping sanctions bill targeting Iran, Russia

The Senate signalled it's ready to expand sanctions against Russian Federation amid a probe into its meddling in the USA presidential election, and to let Congress review any move by President Donald Trump to lift existing penalties.

The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on US soil seized by the Obama administration, and the president has repeatedly expressed a desire for better relations with Moscow while downplaying the impact of Russia's cyber activities.

He called the sanctions "ill-timed" and said the administration needs the ability to "turn that heat up" on Russian Federation, should a future situation call for it.

It's important to note that the measure hasn't been signed into law.

The new package also requires the White House to get a congressional review if it attempts to relax, suspend or terminate Russian Federation sanctions.

Despite Russia's bellicosity, there's been no forceful response from President Donald Trump.

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.

"They will be somewhat hollow and [President Vladimir] Putin will know they are hollow", he said. In addition, the anti-Russian sanctions, now issued in the form of the presidential decrees, will receive the status of law, which will complicate the procedure for their mitigation or cancellation. House aides said they expected the chamber would begin to debate the measure in the coming weeks, although they could not predict when it might face a final vote.


It's not clear what exact changes the White House wants to make to the bill, or that those changes would actually weaken the proposed penalties against Russian Federation, but Senate Democrats have been attempting to sound an alarm over just that possibility.

The bill was opposed by Trump's State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday called on lawmakers to grant "flexibility" to the White House in dealing with Russian Federation as U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed new Russian Federation sanction bill.

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. They blocked US companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), where Tillerson was chairman, from investing in such projects.

The bill, S.722, was cosponsored by 60 senators, including Wicker.

The bill penalizes Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by imposing sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways. "I would be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill". Putin seems content to sit back and watch as America tears itself apart with partisan witch hunts and hatred of the president.

Paul added that he was not in favor of new sanctions either against Russian Federation or against Iran. The vote was 98-2. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only votes against the bill.

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