US Senate passes Russia sanctions bill, will Trump veto it?
The US Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favour of constituting new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The 98-2 Senate vote came despite objections by the White House. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives approved the bill. It will now be sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. Trump, who seeks closer US-Russia ties, may veto the vote.
Defying Trump, US House votes to intensify sanctions on Russia
On July 26, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to impose fresh sanctions on Russia over Moscow's alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential election. The bill likely dims US President Donald Trump's hopes of improving US-Russia relations. It still needs to be passed by Senate before being signed by the president. The White House said it's reviewing the bill.
Bill would make it tougher for Trump to rollback sanctions
The bill would codify sanctions imposed by Obama. The president won't be able to waive the sanctions unilaterally and will be required to first consult Congress. The bipartisan support for the bill along with this provision indicates the reservations of lawmakers about Trump's pro-Moscow leanings.
What the bill includes
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the proposed sanctions "tightens the screws on our most dangerous adversaries in order to keep Americans safe." Washington has already sanctioned Russian individuals and companies over Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. In December 2016, following reports of the Russian hackings, President Barack Obama expelled 35 diplomats and shut down two of its compounds in America.
Energy-dependent Europe concerned over House vote
The bill adds further restrictions on doing business with Russian companies, especially in the energy sector. However, this provision has rankled US' European allies who feel they may be penalized for being involved in Russian pipeline projects.
Could Trump veto the House bill?
The president could possibly veto the bill if it's approved by Senate. However, given the bipartisan support for the bill, a veto would be politically unpopular and fuel suspicion that Trump is close to Russia. A presidential veto can be bypassed if two-thirds majority in both legislative houses vote to override it. The White House said Trump is "going to study that legislation."
Russia says sanctions bill is "worrying"
Prior to the House vote, Russian Deputy-Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it would place a "dangerous mine" under the foundation of US-Russia ties. He added: "All this is very worrying. We can see no signs that that Russophobe hysteria that has engulfed the entire US Congress is dying down." A Russian MP said the sanctions "undermine the prospects for the restoration of Russian-American relations."
It remains uncertain whether Trump will veto bill
Trump "may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians," said White House Communications director Anthony Scaramucci.