Senate passes sweeping sanctions bill targeting Iran, Russia

Posted June 20, 2017

Then it will be brought before US President Donald Trump, who will have to either sign or vetoit.

The White House stressed that it is committed to the existing Russian sanctions regime that it believes is best suited to address U.S. concerns and would keep sanctions in place until Russia resolves the situation in Ukraine. Testifying this week on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the need to take action against Russian Federation but warned against measures that would cut off dialogue with Moscow. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already indicated his mixed feelings for the measure, saying publicly that while he agreed "with the sentiment" that Russian Federation be held accountable for its election meddling, he also wanted Congress "to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

A frequently polarized Senate has found common ground as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to approve a sweeping sanctions bill that uses an array of financial penalties to punish Iran and Russian Federation.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted to expand sanctions targeting Iran's ballistic missile program, systematic human rights abuses, violations of arms embargoes, and state support for terrorism.

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The bipartisan support for the year's most significant GOP-backed limitation on Trump comes as the White House remains silent on the plan to sanction Moscow, even as President Putin pushes back at US intelligence officials' conclusion that Russian actors conducted cyberattacks to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

'This is a very, very strong piece of legislation, ' Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said on the Senate floor.

The New York Times noted that, had the deal not passed, it would have been a "major embarrassment" for Trump just weeks after he traveled to Saudi Arabia and unveiled the agreement with flare.

The Senate bill also would cement in law a series of executive orders signed by Obama and aimed at punishing Russian Federation for aggressive behavior, including its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatist rebels in Ukraine's east.

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The Senate approved the bill 98-2, with Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont voting against the measure.

"The legislation sends a very, very strong signal to Russian Federation, the nefarious activities they've been involved in", Sen.

Mr Putin said that Russian Federation would be forced to make changes because of the sanctions, but they would not lead to a "collapse".

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