US Senate votes overwhelmingly for tougher Russian sanctions amidst poll meddling probe

Pablo Tucker
June 18, 2017

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russian Federation for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, and to force President Donald Trump to get Congress' approval before easing any existing sanctions.

"Not only did we pass a new round of tough sanctions for Russia's meddling in our election, we codified existing sanctions into law, making them harder to lift, and we moved to make Congress - not the President - the final arbiter of sanctions relief when necessary", top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said before the vote.

The Senate this week also added new sanctions punishing Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 US election, annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and support for Syria's government in that country's six-year-long civil war.

The Trump administration has repeatedly downplayed Russian involvement in the election and denied the USA intelligence consensus that the Russian interference helped his campaign.

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.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, ticked off a series of Russian aggressions that he said have gone without retaliation: annexation of Crimea, intervention in Syria, meddling in Ukraine and threatening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, as well as the USA election interference.

A frequently polarized Senate has found common ground as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to approve a sweeping sanctions bill that uses an array of financial penalties to punish Iran and Russian Federation.

The Senate approved the bill 98-2, with Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont voting against the measure.

Perhaps anxious about the bill's chances in the House, Senate Democrats are pushing their bill on social media.

The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, S. 722, a White House official said Wednesday.

"I know that some people in the White House are pushing back", Brown said.

The Senate maintains that the Iran sanctions that target its ballistic missile programme, destabilizing activities in the region and support for terrorist groups do not violate the Iran nuclear deal, which saw an easing of other sanctions.

"I can't imagine the House would want to be apologists for Russian behavior after the combined weight of the intelligence communities all weighing in saying, 'Look, they attacked the United States'". It's attached as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill.

Other reports by iNewsToday