Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

United States congress gets power to restrain Trump on Russian Federation sanctions

The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after USA intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.

"If the president doesn't sign a bill that passes the Senate with 90 votes, the president will learn yet another lesson about what the public wants", Brown said.

The latest measure will be attached as an amendment to a larger bill that would see new sanctions imposed on Iran.

The bill penalizes Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by imposing sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including mining, metals, shipping and railways.

Senators insisted the new Iran sanctions won't undermine or impede enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal that Obama and other countries reached with Tehran two years ago.

The other senator voting no, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, told The Washington Examiner that he doesn't favor any new measures against Iran or Russian Federation. He's instead castigated his own intelligence community and rejected its assessment that Russia's hacking and disinformation campaign was meant to aid his candidacy.

But Democrats fear that the White House would be very demanding in its efforts to dilute the legislation.

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"For too long, the message to Vladimir Putin has been that Russia can invade its neighbors, threaten United States allies, intensify its cyberattacks, and interfere with foreign elections with very little repercussion", said Senator John McCain, a strident critic of the Russian leader.

The measure is widely seen as a rebuke to Trump, as it hits Russian Federation with new sanctions to punish Moscow for its interference in United States elections, as well as over Moscow's aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

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.

A senior Russian official responded to the vote saying if the sanctions are approved, Russia will not let them go "unanswered".

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-author of the bill, said he's been updating the State Department. Individuals who carried out cyber attacks on behalf of the Russian government are also targeted.

Should Trump reject the new sanctions, the measures backers say that there will be enough congressional support to override the veto, AP reported. "I find as we get to the finish line on these bills, every administration generally joins us ... so I think we'll have the support of the administration".

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