White House pushing Republicans in the House to relax new Russian Federation sanctions

The bill if it passes in the House would give Obama-era sanctions the force of law ¿ and prevent President Donald Trump from easing them

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved new financial sanctions against Russian Federation on Wednesday for its interference in the 2016 presidential election and actions taken in Syria and Europe, according to media reports.

The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly - 97 to 2 - to add the Russian Federation measure to a bill sanctioning Iran for its work to develop ballistic missile technology, in a bipartisan rebuke to Trump's suggestions about improving relations with Russian Federation.

The sanctions were meant to be a punishment for Russia's meddling in Ukraine as well as pushback to the Moscow government's attempts to interfere in the US election past year, lawmakers said.

Democrats pressed for and succeeded in adding a measure that would restrict President Donald Trump - whose administration has been entangled in investigations into ties to Russian officials - from lifting the sanctions unless approved by Congress.

The Russia sanctions measure was added as an amendment to an Iranian sanctions bill, after a deal was struck between the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking Committees.

That's a realistic threat, despite confidence from Israeli lobbyists that it would not, as the bill was largely an attempt to sneak sanctions the USA was obliged to lift from Iran as part of the nuclear deal back in as part of punishing Iran for "non-nuclear" actions, and those leading the charge were opponents of the P5+1 deal in the first place. Then it will be brought before US President Donald Trump, who will have to either sign or vetoit.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson questioned the legislation on Wednesday, urging Congress to ensure that any sanctions package "allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation".

But the vote on Russian Federation sanctions was overshadowed by the shooting of GOP House Whip Steve Scalise, a GOP staff member, a former GOP staffer and two members of the U.S. Capitol Police force, while they practiced for a congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, early Wednesday morning. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted against the amendment.

If passed, the measure could hamper ongoing talks between Trump administration officials and their Kremlin counterparts to remove the "irritants" in their relationship, beginning with the return of Russia's diplomatic compounds that were seized by Obama past year.

“These additional sanctions will also send a powerful and bipartisan statement to Russian Federation and any other country who might try to interfere in our elections that they will be punished, ” Schumer added. Before passing the combined Russia-Iran measure, the chamber also attached a bipartisan amendment signaling support for NATO's Article 5 - which Trump earlier this month notably declined to endorse in Brussels - by a unanimous vote.

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