The measure calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on a broad range of people
, photo: AP/Mikhail Klimentyev
14 of June 2017 17:51:18
WASHINGTON – The Republican-led Senate voted decisively to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by approving a wide-ranging sanctions package that targets key sectors of Russia's economy and individuals who carried out cyber attacks.Senators on Wednesday passed the bipartisan sanctions legislation 97-2, underscoring broad support among Republicans and Democrats for rebuking Russia after U.S. intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the presidential campaign. Lawmakers who backed the measure also cited Russia's aggression in Syria and Ukraine.Despite Russia's bellicosity, there's been no forceful response from President Donald Trump. The president has instead sought to improve relations with Moscow and rejected the implication that Russian hacking of Democratic emails tipped the election his way.Russian President Vladimir Putin's "brazen attack on our democracy is a flagrant demonstration of his disdain and disrespect for our nation," Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said ahead of the vote."But in the last eight months, what price has Russia paid for attacking American democracy?" said McCain, who also faulted Congress for not moving more quickly.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, said Trump's failure to act could embolden Russia and lead to interference in future U.S. elections. Brown also said the veto-proof vote on the sanctions package should send a strong signal to the White House."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 leaders of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees announced late Monday that they'd reached an agreement on the sanctions package after intensive negotiations.The discussions gathered steam late last month after Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, joined the effort to push the legislation forward. Corker said he'd agreed to give Tillerson a "short window of opportunity" to reverse the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Russia. But Corker said his patience ran out after he reviewed classified intelligence that showed "no difference whatsoever" in Russia's behavior, especially in Syria.The deal was forged amid the firestorm over investigations into Moscow's possible collusion with members of Trump's campaign. House and Senate committees are investigating Russia's meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a separate probe.[caption id="attachment_62903" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin[/caption]The measure calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on a broad range of people, including Russians engaged in corruption, individuals in 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.The measure would punish individuals who conduct what the senators described as "conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government." Also covered by the sanctions are people doing business with Russian intelligence and defense agencies.The package also would require a congressional review if a president attempts to ease or end current penalties. The review mechanism was styled after 2015 legislation pushed by Republicans and approved overwhelmingly in the Senate that gave Congress a vote on whether Obama could lift sanctions against Iran. That measure reflected Republican complaints that Obama had overstepped the power of the presidency and needed to be checked by Congress.Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said the Senate has finally confronted Russia."This bipartisan amendment is the sanctions regime that the Kremlin deserves for its actions," Shaheen said.
SEN. @RANDPAUL:"I'm really not in favor of new sanctions against Russia now...everything we say #Russia's done wrong? So has #China & us." pic.twitter.com/hwPPxspkOP— Kevin Cirilli (@kevcirilli) June 14, 2017