Senate Votes 98-2 to Impose New Sanctions on Iran, Russia

Senators on Wednesday passed the bipartisan sanctions legislation 97-2, underscoring broad support among Republicans and Democrats for rebuking Russian Federation after USA intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the presidential campaign.

Russian Federation and the West have traded economic blows since 2014, when Moscow annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and lent support to separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"This bipartisan amendment is the sanctions regime that the Kremlin deserves for its actions".

The entire sanctions bill will likely pass the Senate by the end of the week; it's unclear whether or when the House would hear it.

"The legislation sends a very, very strong signal to Russian Federation, the nefarious activities they've been involved in", Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said as lawmakers debated the measure.

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The only two "no" votes on the Russian Federation bill were from Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul.

In other words, the Trump administration may (again) be betting that loyalty to the president - or more likely, fear of his political base - will be more important to House Republicans than the omnipresent suspicions over, and investigation into, possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, as well as the president's seeming attempts to dismiss that investigation.

Earlier, Trump has indicated he is skeptical about additional sanctions and has been dismissive about the role of Russian interference in the USA elections.

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

The measures need the approval of the House of Representatives and to be signed into law by President Trump, although they are thought to have enough Congressional support to override any veto.

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"We must take a stronger stance in deterring Iran and holding its regime accountable for its actions and addressing Russia's years-long pattern of provocations", said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, in a statement.

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.

President Trump and Moscow have always denied any collusion.

Both Democratic and Republican members placed politics aside to offer prayers, support and camaraderie Wednesday, in an unusual show of unity on Capitol Hill. "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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