- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Senators voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to write stiff sanctions against Russia into law and to give Congress a say should President Trump try to lift them, in a bipartisan strike against the government of President Vladimir Putin.

Lawmakers said the sanctions were punishment for Russia’s meddling in Ukraine, as well as pushback to the Moscow government’s attempts to interfere in the U.S. election last year.

The 97-2 vote, which came as part of a broader debate over sanctions on Iran, marked a rare spot of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, who said they hoped it would be the beginning of more such deals.

“I think we all agree this has been a rather partisan beginning to a new administration. But this bill is a conspicuous exception to that,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The legislation takes sanctions imposed by the Obama administration and writes them into law, and says if the president wants to lift them, he must come back to Congress for permission.



The full Iran sanctions bill must still be approved by the Senate, and then the whole package will go to the House. Democrats said Mr. Trump must commit to signing the legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said the White House should take note of the vote.

“The bill should be a powerful signal to President Trump and the White House that the concern that he might weaken or lift sanctions against Putin is a bipartisan concern, one that the Senate is not going to ignore,” the New York Democrat said this week, hours after the deal was struck.

Just two Republican senators voted against the Russia sanctions amendment. They were Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

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