Senate Vote Sends a Message to Russia

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The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia and giving Congress the power to block Trump from lifting existing sanctions.

Senators voted 98-2 on the bill which also imposes new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile development, and punishes Iran for its support of terrorism and human rights violations. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted against the bill.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives where it faces an uncertain future.

Senate Republicans was initially reluctant to impose new sanctions in an attempt to give the president time and flexibility to repair the U.S-Russia relationship.But Republican senators have grown increasingly frustrated with Russia for its support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The new sanctions come amid several Congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The Russian sanctions legislation would impose new sanctions on any individuals tied to “malicious cyber activity,” supplying weapons to Assad’s government, or those tied to Russia’s intelligence and defense sectors.

The legislation would give Congress 30 to 60 days around the August recess to review and potentially block Mr. Trump from lifting or easing Russian sanctions, codify the sanctions on Russia imposed by President Obama, and would allow the Trump administration to impose new sanctions.