Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

Senate backs measure limiting president's power to lift sanctions

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 bill includes new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and other activities not related to the worldwide nuclear agreement reached with the United States and other world powers.

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.

The Senate also passed two amendments before approving the bill.

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If the legislation passes the House, it would head to Trump for signing. "Today marks a significant shift of power back to the American people's representatives, something that has been a top priority of mine since becoming the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than four years ago".

A day earlier on Wednesday, the Senate added another set of sanctions on Russian Federation for meddling in last year's U.S. election, its reunification with Crimea and support for Syria's government in that country's six-year-long conflict. He's instead castigated his own intelligence community and rejected its assessment that Russia's hacking and disinformation campaign was meant to aid his candidacy. The State Department has said that talks are ongoing with Russian Federation over the possible return of the compounds, underscoring the Trump administration's interest in securing more cooperation from Moscow in ending the Syrian civil war. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted against the Russian Federation amendment, claiming it was "not effective at addressing problems in the U.S. -Russia relationship." Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. Lee ultimately voted for the final bill. The measure also applies terrorism sanctions to Tehran's Revolutionary Guards and requires the enforcement of an arms embargo. In a televised addressed, he said that sanctions would violate the Iran deal signed by President Obama. The White House has taken no formal position on the bill, otherwise. "I would be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill". The White House has not yet released a statement on the president's reaction to the sanctions bill. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered only tepid support for the Russian Federation sanctions package.

The legislation, which now moves to the House, also gives Capitol Hill a much stronger hand in determining Russian Federation sanctions policy.

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