The Senate passed a new Russia sanctions bill with an almost unanimous vote on Thursday. Not only does the bill add new sanctions to Russia’s ever-growing list, it also limits Trump’s power to lift them in the future.
The only senators who voted against the bill were Rand Paul (R-KY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The overwhelming support of the bill is a slap in the face to Donald Trump.
Trump has repeatedly doubted the intelligence committee’s findings that Russia sought to influence the presidential election. His administration hasn’t ordered a removal of Russia sanctions yet, but lawmakers have been concerned about that possibility.
Along with election meddling, the sanctions are in response to Russia’s engagement in Syria and the invasion of Crimea. Before the vote, NBC News reports that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer commented, “This administration has been too eager, far too eager in my mind, to put sanctions relief on the table.”
Schumer added, “We cannot let Russia’s meddling in our elections go unpunished, lest they ever consider something similar again.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the only Trump administration official to comment on the bill. Tillerson warned lawmakers against passing any bills that could tie the administration’s hands in regards to Russia.
Tillerson stated, “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.”
Since its 98-2 passing in the Senate, the bill will now go to the House of Representatives. It’s not clear whether the House will pass it, though House Speaker Paul Ryan supported sanctions in the past. A Spokesman for Ryan’s office noted, “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.”
If the Russia sanctions bill does pass, it’ll be up to Trump to sign or veto it. Do you think he will?