The Trump administration reportedly is weighing the return of Russian compounds on US soil seized by the Obama administration, and the president has repeatedly expressed a desire for better relations with Moscow while downplaying the impact of Russia's cyber activities.
White House Principle Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration remains "committed" to the existing sanctions against Russian Federation, calling them the "best tool" for compelling Russian Federation to honor its commitments to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. This comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the new sanctions would hamper diplomacy with Russian Federation. The new sanctions are meant to punish Russian Federation for its role in the fighting in Syria and for interfering in the 2016 election. Tillerson had asked for some time to try and change the direction of U.S. -Russia relations before Congress levied new sanctions on the Kremlin.
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.
Earlier this week, the Senate came together and overwhelmingly passed a bill that would impose new sanctions against Russian Federation and allow Congress to review any attempts by the president to lessen them.
"We must not allow this kind of interference in our elections become a normal process", said Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
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But the DUP leader insisted it was now down to Sinn Féin whether an agreement is done. The Conservatives have 317 MPs while the DUP have 10.
The bill would also impose sanctions on Iran with regard to its ballistic missile activities that are not linked to the nuclear agreement the Arab country signed with the US and other countries.
Corker, too, sounded pleased that the bill effectively ties a president's hands when it comes to unwinding certain sanctions on Russian Federation. The bill, which includes both Russian and Iranian sanctions, now heads to the House, which still needs to pass it before it goes to President Donald Trump's desk.
The bill provides for the consolidation on the legislative level of the sanctions imposed by Executive orders of Barack Obama.
The legislation was loudly endorsed by Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and Sen. Only Sens. Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul voted against it.
"We do project ourselves strongly into this issue, Congress does, the Senate does, but we also left flexibilities for them to be able to manage foreign policy", he said.