Senate Passes New Russian Sanctions Bill That Would Curb Trump's Power

"I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Senate voted almost unanimously Wednesday to allow Congress to strip the president of the power to unilaterally lift existing sanctions against Russian Federation, a matter that had many of President Donald Trump's allies siding with his harshest critics.

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 U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for an amendment limiting the Trump administration's ability to unilaterally ease sanctions on Russian Federation.

In order for the bill to become law, it must still pass the US House of Representatives and be signed by Trump. "I'm really not in favor of new sanctions against Russian Federation now or new sanctions on Iran", Paul said.

The measure, which was announced Monday and is an amendment to another bill on sanctions on Iran, codifies existing sanctions on Russian Federation and adds new ones.

The return of Russian officials to the Upper Brookville estate from which they were expelled a year ago would be prohibited as part of a bipartisan Senate agreement expanding sanctions on Moscow. The two "no" senators were Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

Tillerson cancels trip to Mexico to work on Qatar crisis
In one case, he said, a Qatari woman was ordered to leave the UAE where she lived with her husband and infant. These decisions were taken in full conformity with the fundamental principles of Public International Law.


US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been one of Trump's team facing allegations of holding undisclosed meetings with Russian officials during the election.

The administration fears that the sanctions, passed on a 98-2 vote Thursday, will tie its hands in dealing with Moscow, Politico reports, citing a senior White House official.

Then-President in late December ordered sanctions on Russian spy agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the US said were really spies.

Adopted overwhelmingly as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill, the measure targets Russia's cyber espionage entities, energy sector, financial interests, and the flow of Russian weaponry to war zones like Syria.

If the Trump administration decides to oppose the new sanctions, they could be in a bind.

This bill still must go to the House for consideration; it's not clear whether it will be advanced by GOP leaders there, as the Trump Administration is not pleased with some of the details.

"What I wouldn't want to do is close the channels off", Tillerson said.

  • Sidney Guerrero