The decisive bipartisan vote could put the Trump administration in a bind
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks along the Cathedral Square of the Kremlin, to take part in a holiday reception in Moscow, Monday, June 12, 2017. Photo: Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/ Alexei Druzhinin, photo: Sputnik, Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin, via AP
15 of June 2017 14:52:25
WASHINGTON – A frequently polarized Senate found common ground Thursday as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to approve a sweeping sanctions bill that punishes longtime adversaries Iran and Russia with an array of financial penalties.The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after U.S. intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign. Lawmakers have long sought to hit Iran with more sanctions in order to check its ballistic missile program and rebuke Tehran's continued support for terrorist groups.
"You add up, without firing a shot or shooting a missile, the amount of disruption the Russians have caused in Western societies at large — all that for less than 5 percent of the cost of a new aircraft carrier," Warner said. "Pretty good rate of return."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.Obama's former secretary of state, John Kerry, had raised that prospect on the eve of the Foreign Relations Committee's vote on the bill last month. In a series of tweets, Kerry urged lawmakers to "tread carefully" in pushing ahead with new Iran sanctions in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani's re-election to another four-year term. Rouhani is a political moderate who defeated a hard-line opponent.The Senate bill imposes mandatory sanctions on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure also would apply terrorism sanctions to the country's Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo.Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign has rocked Washington and led to multiple investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.Yet Trump hasn't sought to rebuke Moscow. He's instead castigated his own intelligence community and rejected its assessment that Russia's hacking and disinformation campaign was intended to aid his candidacy.The measure calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on a broad range of people, including Russians engaged in corruption, individuals responsible for human rights abuses and anyone supplying weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Broad new sanctions would be imposed on Russia's mining, metals, shipping and railways sectors.
Bernie Sanders explains his no vote -- one of only two in the Senate -- on Russia/Iran sanctions: pic.twitter.com/rHOou7ObZb— George Zornick (@gzornick) June 15, 2017