US Senate passes new Iran-Russia sanctions, limiting Trump’s power

Xinhua Published: 2017-06-16 08:59:21
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The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed new sanctions on Iran and Russia and put a limit on the White House's ability to roll back any Russia sanctions.

The new sanctions, passed by a 98-2 vote, were also so far one of the strongest U.S. congressional responses to alleged Russian meddling of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The new sanctions aim to impose new restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program and to punish Tehran for "supporting terrorism and human rights violations."

As for Russia sanctions, the new sanctions target among others "those conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government" and "those doing business with the Russian intelligence and defense sectors," according to a press release by Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

The new Russia sanctions also require the White House to get a congressional review if it attempts to relax, suspend or terminate Russia sanctions.

The new Senate sanctions on Russia and Iran came one day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on lawmakers to grant "flexibility" to the White House in dealing with Russia.

During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Tillerson urged the Congress "to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation."

The bill was now heading toward the House for passage before reaching U.S. President Donald Trump's desk.

It remained unknown whether Trump, who had been seeking rapprochement with Russia for months, would sign the bill into law. However, he would have to reject new sanctions against Iran, which he supports, to derail the latest congressional effort to punish Russia.

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