Senate Approves Measure Limiting Trump's Power Over Russia Sanctions

It's part of a broader measure that would enforce new sanctions against Russia and strengthen existing ones.
Posted at 9:52 AM, Jun 15, 2017

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a measure Wednesday that would make it harder for the Trump administration to unilaterally ease sanctions against Russia.

Senators on both sides of the aisle negotiated the measure, and that rare bipartisan cooperation continued into the final vote — it was 97 to 2.

The only senators who voted against the measure were Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee. One senator, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, did not vote.

The measure calls for a mandatory congressional review if sanctions against Russia are ever scaled back or terminated entirely.

President Donald Trump hasn't officially eased any current sanctions, but he previously suggested he'd consider doing so if Russia helped the U.S. fight terrorism.

During his presidency, Barack Obama placed restrictions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea and tampering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The congressional review measure is part of a wider deal that would not only strengthen those existing sanctions, but also enact new ones. It's attached as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill.

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.

It's unclear where Trump stands on the Russia sanctions amendment. But in a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned against passing a measure, saying it would make it more difficult to improve U.S.-Russian relations.

The Senate and House of Representatives still need to sign off on the full bill before it would reach Trump's desk for final approval.