U.S. congress gets power to restrain Trump on Russian Federation sanctions

Olive Rios
June 26, 2017

The Senate-passed sanctions bill also converts existing penalties against Moscow into law, potentially making them more hard to remove, and prevents the Trump administration from returning two Russian diplomatic compounds seized in December by the Obama administration as punishment for alleged electoral disruption.

As further punishment for Russia's involvement in the election, as well as wars in Syria and Ukraine, new sanctions would be placed on Russians who supply weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, violate human rights or conduct cyberactivity for the government. Some proposed bills also included measures to give Congress the power to block the president from easing up on sanctions against Russia and to better counter Russian propaganda in the United States and Europe.

The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on USA 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.

The vote to strengthen sanctions against Russia - which Senators on both parties made clear was created to send a message on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections - came hours after President Donald Trump had again mocked the investigation surrounding those charges. Once the Iran bill passes the Senate, the legislation moves to the House for action.

Mr. Schumer said Mr. Trump has been "far too eager" to float the idea of sanctions relief with Russian Federation and that the point of the amendment was to take the decision out of the executive's hands.

The Trump administration is reviewing the Senate measure, according to a White House official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The Iran bill, including the Russian Federation sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate by Thursday (local time).

"This is a very, very strong piece of legislation", Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said on the Senate floor. "What I wouldn't want to do is close the channels off".

He also said that Russian Federation took a negative view of a US Senate deal on wider sanctions against Russian Federation.

The vote was overshadowed by Wednesday's shooting at a congressional Republican baseball practice - two senators were there, Rand Paul and Jeff Flake of Arizona - but the Senate kept on its schedule, and the bill is expected to be passed by the end of the week. Regardless, GOP senators believe Trump would sign it, with Sen.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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