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Senate backs measure limiting president's power to lift sanctions
19 June 2017, 02:31 | Rufus Hill
Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Targeting Revolutionary Guards
The proposed legislation seeks to penalize Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, involvement in Syria's civil war and annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.
The Senate voted 98 to 2, today, to pass the underlying Iran sanctions legislation as amended. Bernie Sanders. Sanders says he's anxious the legislation, which also includes sanctions against Iran, could hurt the Iranian nuclear deal. News reports the sanctions target Russian individuals who give weapons to the Assad regime, violate human rights, or are involved in the defense and intelligence industries.
A senior Trump administration official has told Politico that the White House will attempt to convince House Republicans to make "administration-friendly changes" to a bipartisan new Senate bill which slaps Russian Federation with Trump-proof sanctions in retaliation for the Kremlin's interference in last year's US presidential election.
The measure also included language toughening sanctions against Russian Federation in the wake of their accused efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, converting some of the penalties put in place by former President Barack Obama's administration into law, and forbidding Trump from weakening existing Russian Federation sanctions without first seeking Senate approval. That provision also mandates that Congress approve any easing of sanctions against the Kremlin.
President Donald Trump campaigned on easing tensions with Russian Federation, arguing that it would be in America's best interest to try warming relations with Vladimir Putin.
However, they could not predict if it would come up for a final vote before lawmakers leave Washington at the end of July for their summer recess.
Senior aides told Reuters they expected some sanctions package would eventually pass, but they expected the measure would be changed in the House.
Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had questioned the legislation in testimony in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Previously, U.S. energy sanctions had only targeted Russia's future high-tech energy projects, such as drilling for oil in the Arctic, fracking and offshore drilling. The libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only other "no" vote against the bill. They blocked USA companies such as Exxon Mobil, where Tillerson was chairman, from investing in such projects. "I would be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill".
In other words, the Trump administration may (again) be betting that loyalty to the president - or more likely, fear of his political base - will be more important to House Republicans than the omnipresent suspicions over, and investigation into, possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, as well as the president's seeming attempts to dismiss that investigation.
The new bill would slap sanctions on companies in other countries looking to invest in those projects in the absence of US companies, a practice known as backfilling.
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