Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Overwhelming Majority in US Senate Votes to Continue Russia Sanctions

Overwhelming Majority in US Senate Votes to Continue Russia Sanctions

The Senate voted 98-2 Thursday to pass a bill that would enact new sanctions against Russian Federation and require the White House to secure congressional approval before lifting any current sanctions, Reuters reported Thursday. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed to push back at the legislation Wednesday at a House hearing.

Lawmakers also voted overwhelmingly earlier on Thursday to add provision to the bill allowing the usa space agency NASA to continue using Russian-made rocket engines and reaffirming the US commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation that included tougher new sanctions against Russian Federation and Iran, making it more hard for President Donald Trump to ease existing restrictions without congressional approval. The legislation also allows new sanctions on Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways and targets Russians guilty of conducting cyber attacks or supplying weapons to Syria's government.

The package also would require a congressional review if a president attempts to ease or end current penalties.

To make it even harder for U.S. President Donald Trump, who had been seeking rapprochement with Russia for months, to reject the new Russia sanctions, the Senate also attached the new Russia sanctions to a bill imposing sanctions on Iran.

The Senate had been pondering what separate measures against Russian Federation might look like, but Corker and ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland suggested the Iran bill might be a better and faster route for them.

Under the amendment, any executive sanctions imposed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration can not be lifted without congressional review.

The underlying bill imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program and support for worldwide terrorism. Rand Paul (R -KY) and Bernie Sanders (I - VT).

Germany on Friday accused Washington of hurting European power companies through the new sanctions against Russian Federation that target the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe. Bob Corker saying: "Look, this bill is going to become law".

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.

"Whenever the U.S. does something that Russia doesn't like, Russia picks things to do that the United States wouldn't like", says Simon Saradzhyan, founding director of the Russia Matters Project at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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