PUNISHING PUTIN – US Senate passes Russia sanctions package

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Senators passed the bipartisan sanctions legislation 97-2, emphasizing broad support amongst Republicans as well as Democrats for opposing Russia after U.S. intelligence firms learned Moscow had intentionally trespassed in the governmental campaign.

Lawmakers that backed the step pointed out Russia’s hostility in Syria and Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s truculence, there’s been no strong action from President Donald Trump. The US leader has instead sought to boost relationships with Moscow and denied the effects 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 in advance of the ballot.

“But in the last eight months, what price has Russia paid for attacking American democracy?” McCain said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supplied lukewarm assistance for the sanctions measure, informing the House Foreign Affairs Committee he agreed “with the sentiment” that Russia should be held accountable for its meddling in the election.

But Tillerson advised Congress to earn the sanctions legislation does not tie the president’s hands as well as shut down methods of communication between the previous Cold War adversaries.

He asked lawmakers “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.”

If the Trump administration decides to oppose the new sanctions, they could be in a bind. The sanctions measure has actually been affixed to a bill penalizing Iran that the US Senate is presently debating and which has strong bipartisan assistance.

So the White House would have to deny more stringent penalties against Iran, which it favors, in order to thwart the components of the regulations it could object to.

Once the Iran bill is passed, the legislation relocates to the House for action.

The leaders of the Senate Banking as well as Foreign Relations committees introduced late Monday that they’d reached an agreement on the sanctions package after extensive negotiations.

The agreement was built amid the firestorm over investigations into Moscow’s possible collusion with members of Trump’s campaign. House and also Senate committees are examining Russia’s meddling as well as possible links to the Trump campaign.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a different probe.

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