US Senate votes near unanimously for Russia, Iran sanctions

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Iran’s supreme leader delivering a speech during a meeting in Tehran Sept. 9 2015

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Iran’s supreme leader delivering a speech during a meeting in Tehran Sept. 9 2015

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russian Federation for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, and to force President Donald Trump to get Congress' approval before easing any existing sanctions.

The legislation was filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill.

"Of course this will make Russia-US relations more complex", said Putin.

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.

The Senate's Iranian sanctions legislation imposes new restrictions on Tehran's ballistic missile program, also aiming to punish Iran for supporting terrorism and human rights violations.

Authorize robust assistance to strengthen democratic institutions and counter disinformation across Central and Eastern European countries that are vulnerable to Russian aggression and interference.

Previously, U.S. energy sanctions had only targeted Russia's future high-tech energy projects, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic, fracking and offshore drilling.

The addition of Russian sanctions to the bill was a rebuke to the president because it would prohibit the president from being able to lift them without Congressional approval.

The US Congress has been empowered to block any efforts by President Donald Trump to scale back sanctions against Russian Federation.

Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, Sen.

However, Sen. Robert Menendez was skeptical, telling Politico, "I just cannot fathom how House Republicans could ultimately, with everything that's going on with Russia's nefarious actions, try to either deep-six the bill or dramatically change it". Republican Senator Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, were the only two "no" votes.

It's important to note that the measure hasn't been signed into law.

USA intelligence reports have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyberattack with the intention of boosting Trump's chance to win.

Senators are optimistic Trump won't veto them. "Now, he's surprised me on a lot of things", Sen. "To too many of us on both sides of the aisle, it seems when there's divisiveness, it gets far greater attention in the media than when there's comity between the parties". "I'm confident about that". Secretary Matitis stated there should absolutely be consequences for Russian interference in the 2016 election after Heinrich pressed him on prioritizing responding to the Russian's use of hostile, asymmetrical tools to interfere in our elections.

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