WH to Lobby House GOP on Softening Senate Bill on Moscow Sanctions

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20 June, 2017

If passed in the House of Representatives and signed into law by Trump, it would put into law sanctions previously established via former President Barack Obama's executive orders, including some on Russian energy projects.

It also aims to punish Russia's Vladimir Putin for interfering in last year's U.S. election, and to make it tougher for the White House to roll back sanctions.

However, he would have to reject new sanctions against Iran, which he supports, to derail the latest congressional effort to punish Russian Federation.

The bipartisan support for the year's most significant GOP-backed limitation on Trump comes as the White House remains silent on the plan to sanction Moscow, even as President Putin pushes back at US intelligence officials' conclusion that Russian actors conducted cyberattacks to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

"The Foreign Affairs Committee is reviewing the details in this latest sanctions package being voted on in the Senate, and after that we will determine a path ahead in the House".

"We moved to make the Congress, not the President, the final arbiter of sanctions relief when necessary", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

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As further punishment for Russia's involvement in the election, as well as wars in Syria and Ukraine, new sanctions would be placed on Russians who supply weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, violate human rights or conduct cyberactivity for the government. Before passing the combined Russia-Iran measure, the chamber also attached a bipartisan amendment signaling support for NATO's Article 5 - which Trump earlier this month notably declined to endorse in Brussels - by a unanimous vote. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered only tepid support for the Russian Federation sanctions package. The bill would require a congressional review if President Donald Trump attempts to ease or end penalties against Moscow. The libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the only other "no" vote against the bill.

Maryland senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told TWS that the White House might express some reservations about the bill, but he expected them to support it. In a series of tweets, Kerry urged lawmakers to "tread carefully" in pushing ahead with new Iran sanctions in the wake of President Hassan Rouhani's re-election to another four-year term.

"Russia is still associated with Trump, with the mechanics of his election".

The Russian provisions would add people involved in the alleged Russian hacking attacks on the U.S. election to the sanctions list and impose penalties for delivery of weapons to the Syrian regime, hitting areas of the Russian economy such as mining and the energy sector.

The initial Iran bill imposes sanctions on any foreign person or foreign entity that does business with an entity already designated by the administration that has a connection to Iran's ballistic missile program.


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