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

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that he believes the new sanctions "complicate the Russian-American relationship", essentially echoing the sentiment expressed by the administration. "For decades, Congress has slowly and irresponsibly ceded its authorities to the executive branch, particularly as it relates to foreign policy", said Senator Corker.

The amendment - which passed 97-2 - creates new sanctions in several categories, including those "conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government", people doing business with Russian intelligence and defense agencies, and those "supplying weapons to the Assad regime" in Syria or engaged in corruption or human rights abuses.

The sanctions follow the scandalous departure of Michael Flynn as Trump's national security advisor.

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The sanctions come on the back of numerous rounds of other punitive measures taken by the USA and the European Union in response to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of the country's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

The addition of Russian sanctions to the bill was a rebuke to the president because it would prohibit the president from being able to lift them without Congressional approval. And then we have an expedited process where we could reject the president's decision to give relief.

The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after USA intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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The existing restrictions were put in place by President Barack Obama after Russian Federation annexed Crimea in 2014.

To become law, the legislation must pass the House of Representatives and be signed by Trump. 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.

"We would ask for the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue", Tillerson said. In a statement, Sanders said that he opposed the bill not because of the new Russian Federation sanctions, which he supports, but because of the additional sanctions against Iran that were also part of the bill. Lawmakers of both parties stressed the measures in no way target Iran's nuclear program or the landmark worldwide nuclear accord with Tehran. "This bill is the first time Congress has come together since the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, to do just that", Corker added.

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House Republicans are expected to review the Senate-passed sanctions bill in the coming weeks, an aide told Politico. "The debate we have here is on the non-nuclear activities of Iran that violate worldwide norms and global agreements".

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