US Senate passes new Iran-Russia sanctions

The bipartisan amendment expands existing sanctions on Russia. The Senate will consider it as part of an Iran sanctions bill that already has wide support

US senators near deal on Russia sanctions

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the Trump administration is "committed to existing sanctions against Russia" but is "still reviewing the new Russian Federation sanctions amendment".

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 US election interference.

The sanctions amendment, attached to a larger bill about sanctions on Iran, is a direct rebuke of the recent report that the Trump administration is seeking to lift sanctions that were imposed in December in direct response to Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 election.

Top lawmakers on two Senate committees - Banking and Foreign Relations - announced the sanctions deal late Monday amid the firestorm over Russia's meddling in the presidential election and investigations into Moscow's possible collusion with members of President Donald Trump's campaign.

The White House has not said whether Trump would sign the bill, raising the possibility of a veto standoff. The bill includes a mechanism requiring congressional review of any decision to ease the Russian Federation sanctions.

The Iran bill, including the Russian Federation sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate on Thursday or later on Wednesday. Mike Crapo (R-Id.) on the floor of the Senate on June 13, aside from codifying existing sanctions, the amendment also attacks Russian economic activities in gas and oil production, railway, shipping and metals and mining.

The intelligence community, however, has concluded that Russian Federation played a role in the presidential election held last November.

The legislation is backed by both Republicans and Democrats, and is expected to easily pass the Senate. Republican Senator Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, were the only two "no" votes. "This is a matter for the State Department".

The Senate voted 98 to 2, today, to pass the underlying Iran sanctions legislation as amended.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the overwhelming passage of the measure "sends a strong signal to President Vladimir Putin while ensuring the Trump administration has the flexibility it needs".

However, "the administration official emphasized that the White House supports sanctions on Russian Federation and that the political ramifications of any veto have not been discussed yet", Politico reported.

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