US Senate OKs expansion of sanctions against Russian Federation

US Senate OKs expansion of sanctions against Russian Federation

Blake Casey
June 20, 2017

The U.S. Senate voted 98-2 Thursday to approve sweeping sanctions against Russian Federation and make it harder for President Donald Trump to ease punitive measures against Moscow.

The Senate passed by a vote of 97-2 a measure to toughen sanctions on Russian Federation, a rare bipartisan move meant to respond to various aggressions by Russian Federation against the U.S.

The measure is meant to punish Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and support for Syria's government in the six-year-long civil war. The inquiries raised red flags among Obama administration holdovers at the State Department, who asked Congress to preempt any attempts by Trump to alter the sanctions regime now in place.

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.

Trump has said he wants to improve U.S. -Russia relations and has expressed foreign policy views on a number of topics that are friendlier to Russian interests than the policies of past U.S. administrations.

In a statement, Sanders said that he opposed the bill not because of the new Russian Federation sanctions, which he supports, but because of the additional sanctions against Iran that were also part of the bill.

Monday forecast calls for severe storms in Baltimore
Additionally, a Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for essentially the western two-thirds of the state (runs through tonight ). A severe thunderstorm watch is also in effect until 8 p.m., according to a watch issued by the weather service at 11:15 a.m.

The new bill would slap sanctions on companies in other countries looking to invest in those projects in the absence of USA companies, a practice known as backfilling.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul were the only GOP members to oppose the bill, which was co-sponsored by Republicans Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The sanctions would codify existing economic restrictions and place new ones in an effort to economically harm specific individuals and Russia's economy.

"Since the State Department actively interacts with the lawmakers, the White House is confident that it has allies in the House of Representatives, who are also concerned about the prospect of breaking the tradition and limiting the control of the executive power over the sanctions", Politico writes. The Banking committee is key in crafting any sanctions legislation due to its oversight of the financial sector.

The investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election took another turn, as the Washington Post reported Wednesday that Donald Trump is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible obstruction of justice.