Senate passes sweeping sanctions bill targeting Iran, Russia

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Targeting Revolutionary Guards

The U.S. Senate voted 98-2 Thursday to approve sweeping sanctions against Russian Federation and make it harder for President Donald Trump to ease punitive measures against Moscow.

The new sanctions, passed by a 98-2 vote, was also so far one of the strongest USA congressional responses to alleged Russian meddling of the 2016 US presidential election.

Besides financial penalties, the new sanctions would also target those involved in "malicious cyber activity", those who give weapons to Assad's government and operatives who work with Russian intelligence.

The White House is seeking to influence some GOP House members to ease up on the Senate-passed Russian Federation sanctions, hoping that the lower chamber will provide "administration-friendly" changes, according to Politico. Yet in a hearing this week, he said the administration would like "flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

The White House has not said if Trump would sign or veto the legislation, which would have to be passed by the House of Representatives before it could go to the president's desk.

Senator Corker's Iran sanctions bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May by a vote of 18 to 3 and now has 60 cosponsors. In a 100-member Senate, 97 voted in favor of new sanctions, while only two members; Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted against it.

But the vote on Russian Federation sanctions was overshadowed by the shooting of GOP House Whip Steve Scalise, a GOP staff member, a former GOP staffer and two members of the U.S. Capitol Police force, while they practiced for a congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, early Wednesday morning.




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

The amendment reportedly has not thrilled the White House, which wants to retain its unilateral authority to impose and lift sanctions.

In a state-television interview which aired Saturday, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that the proposed sanctions were "harmful" and would "complicate Russia-American relations".

The current version of the bill limits the right of the head of state to cancel the sanctions. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said the amendment's final language precluded that.

Under President Obama, top White House officials warned that sanctions would be unsafe to the legitimacy of the nuclear deal signed with Iran. Broad new sanctions would be imposed on Russia's mining, metals, shipping and railways sectors.

"We must take a stronger stance in deterring Iran and holding its regime accountable for its actions and addressing Russia's years-long pattern of provocations", said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, in a statement.

Today's vote was the most significant blow the Republican President has received from the Republican Congress.

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