Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Senate OKs sanctions bill to punish Russia

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, and to force President Donald Trump to get Congress' approval before easing any existing sanctions.The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill. For one, new sanctions would be imposed on those linked to "malicious cyber activity" or Russian intelligence or defense services and even for allocating weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The Trump administration has repeatedly downplayed Russian involvement in the election and denied the USA intelligence consensus that the Russian interference helped his campaign. It also would require President Donald Trump to seek congressional.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee first approved the sanctions Monday night, with the former breaking away from the president and his former campaign facing investigations into alleged links to Russian Federation before and after the election. "This bipartisan amendment is the sanctions regime that the Kremlin deserves for its actions", Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who pushed for the legislation, told Reuters.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed. Russian Federation has supported Assad's regime throughout the Middle Eastern nation's five-year long civil war while the US has opposed the current government.

Several more votes on the bill are scheduled in the Senate in the coming days before it can go to the House of Representatives. The only two senators not to vote for the bill were Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee. John McCain of Arizona. The House has yet to vote on the measure, which was added as an amendment to a popular bill stiffening sanctions against Iran for that country's recent ballistic missile tests.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson questioned the legislation on Wednesday, urging Congress to ensure that any sanctions package "allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

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Also included for the first time are discretionary measures the Trump administration could impose on investments by companies in Western countries on Russian Federation energy export pipelines to Europe.

The leaders of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees announced late Monday that they'd reached an agreement on the sanctions package after intensive negotiations.

House and Senate committees are investigating Russia's meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign.

The main focus of the Russia sanctions will be its mining industry and metal production, with some sanctions also targeting foreign investors in the Russian energy market.

Russia has repeatedly denied any interference in the United States election and says the "Russian" rhetoric is there as a result of an open battle between the new Government on one side and the "media" and the shadow unelected Government who is imposing its will on elected officials.

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