US Senators on Wednesday voted to approve a measure that would expand sanctions on Russia and limit the president’s ability to lift restrictions. The measures take aim at Russia's defense, intelligence, banking, mining, and transportation industrial sectors, Sputnik reported.
Senators voted in favor of Senator Mike Crapo’s amendment to a bill that censures Iran over its ballistic missile program.
The sanctions mark a rare bipartisan effort in the Senate. The new measures achieve three goals championed by Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. Schumer wanted to codify existing sanctions into law, usher in further punitive measures for ‘Russian meddling’ in the recent presidential elections, and provide Congress with a procedure for reviewing the lifting of the sanctions. With the last measure, Schumer locked in Congress’ ability to prevent Trump from unilaterally lifting sanctions.
The move is seen by multiple political analysts as a concession for Democrats who, in exchange for bundling Iran and Russia sanctions into one bill, will roll over and play dead when Republicans try to jam through a secretive repeal and replace bill for the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the Senate this week that new measures against Moscow could jeopardize Russia's willingness to engage a dialogue on reaching a political resolution in Syria.
The bill still must pass the House of Representatives before it goes to President Donald Trump's desk.
The Trump administration does not plan to lift the existing sanctions imposed on Russia, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the Kremlin seeks to avoid a "pique of sanctions" in response to the US Senate's newly proposed sanctions against Russia but called for patience until the measures are codified.
The new sanctions will target Russia's defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries. The bill would also restrict debt dealings with Russian banks and energy companies to 14 days and 30 days, respectively.
The new measures were introduced in the Senate on Monday in an amendment to the Iran sanctions bill that censures the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missile program.
When asked if he thinks that the bill will be adopted, Larsen, stated, "I do think it will be."
"Increasing the sanctions on Russia…I think is something that’s going to get a lot of bipartisan support in the Senate and in the House," the lawmaker added.
"I think it’s important to understand that in the United States we are very frustrated and angry about the role that Russia had in interfering with our elections last year," he explained. "The fact that a foreign country at all attempted to interfere and influence our elections is something that every American is angry about. In this case it was Russia, and we have high confidence of that."