Senate approves new sanctions over Russia's meddling in US election
Jun 20 2017
But in a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned against passing a measure, saying it would make it more hard to improve U.S.
"By codifying existing sanctions and requiring Congressional review of any decision to weaken or lift them, we are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed his opposition to the legislation, saying it would hurt the "flexibility" the administration needs to "maintain a constructive dialogue" with Russian Federation.
The Senate-passed sanctions bill also converts existing penalties against Moscow into law, potentially making them more hard to remove, and prevents the Trump administration from returning two Russian diplomatic compounds seized in December by the Obama administration as punishment for alleged electoral disruption.
Currently, President Trump could relax the Russian sanctions unilaterally; these provisions would take that power away from him, and force any changes to go through the Congress.
"We should look how it will happen, that is why, it is too early to speak about our reciprocal measures", Putin said in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel aired on Saturday.
The administration fears that the sanctions, passed on a 98-2 vote Thursday, will tie its hands in dealing with Moscow, Politico reports, citing a senior White House official.
"We need this amendment because we have no time to waste", said Republican Sen.
Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, joined the effort to push the legislation forward.
The fresh sanctions would also see Russian mining, metals, shipping and railways affected, with the Senate also planning on putting into law some previous sanctions touching Russian energy projects and debt financing.