Trump Administration trying to 'weaken' and 'dilute' bipartisan Russian sanctions

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

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.

The amendment, which includes new sanctions on the Kremlin over human rights violations and meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is attached to an Iran sanctions bill that could pass as soon as this week, making it more hard for President Trump to veto the legislation.

The measure is widely seen as a rebuke to Trump, as it hits Russian Federation with new sanctions to punish Moscow for its interference in USA elections, as well as over Moscow's aggression in Ukraine and Syria. So far, at least, that has been a bet worth taking for the White House, though the new penalties against Russian Federation are also built into a bill that gives Trump something he wants: new sanctions on Iran - so that raises the stakes for the president should he threaten a veto.

Last December, the Obama administration responded to Russia's provocations with sanctions on Russia's central intelligence services.

The measure flew in the face of President Donald Trump-who has both steadfastly called for better relations with Moscow and denied it had meddled in the election that saw him rise to power last year-now faces a hard decision on whether or not to sign the bill.

These sanctions have been added to a bill - under debate and nearly certain to win passage - aimed at toughening sanctions against Iran for what the bill calls its support of global terrorist acts. "It is appalling that the Trump administration is even considering it, and that is why we need this amendment".

The deal which has the backing of top Republics and Democrats was announced by the Senate #Foreign Relations and Banking Committee.

The White House has not said whether Trump would sign the bill, raising the possibility of a veto standoff.

The bill - which passed by a 97-2 margin - includes language that would prevent President Trump from lifting the sanctions without Congressional approval. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a Senate panel Tuesday he was wary of actions that could interfere with the administration's efforts to improve relations with Russian Federation.

The two senators who voted against the measure were Republicans Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah).

"I'm concerned about it, but I don't really have the ability to dictate what the White House says to the House", Virginia Sen.

The US Senate on Thursday overwhelming approved fresh sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme and on Russian Federation for its actions in Ukraine and Syria. In early January, before Trump was sworn in, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill created to go beyond the punishments already levied against Russian Federation by the Obama administration and to demonstrate to Trump that forcefully responding to Moscow's election interference wasn't a partisan issue.

Sanctions are authorized on Russia's mining and shipping sectors as well, and the government is required to study the US economy's exposure to Russian state-owned enterprises.

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