The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to move forward with new sanctions on Russian Federation for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election. The legislation also curbs President Trump's power to unilaterally remove sanctions on Russian Federation without congressional approval.
Thursday's legislation levies new sanctions against Russian entities related to corruption, arms sales to the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime, human rights abuses, and "malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government".
Last December, the Obama administration responded to Russia's provocations with sanctions on Russia's central intelligence services.
"For too long, the message to Vladimir Putin has been that Russia can invade its neighbors, threaten U.S. allies, intensify its cyberattacks, and interfere with foreign elections with very little repercussion", said Senator John McCain, a strident critic of the Russian leader.
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Codify and strengthen existing sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia, including the sanctions' impact on certain Russian energy projects and on debt financing in key economic sectors.
"[Russian President Vladimir Putin's] brazen attack on our democracy is a flagrant demonstration of his disdain and disrespect for our nation", Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said ahead of the vote.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a joint press conference in Moscow, Russia, on April 12, 2017.
House Republicans are expected to review the Senate-passed sanctions bill in the coming weeks, an aide told Politico.
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Finally, it provides that no sanctions can be lifted by the President without Congressional review.
The 97-2 vote, which came as part of a broader debate over sanctions on Iran, marked a rare spot of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, who said they hoped it would be the beginning of more such deals. USA intelligence reports have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyberattack with the intention of boosting Trump's chance to win.
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. The libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only other "no" vote against the bill.
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Putin had previously dismissed the proposed sanctions, saying they reflected an internal political struggle in the United States, and that Washington had always used such methods as a means of trying to contain Russian Federation.