US Senate votes overwhelmingly for tougher Russian sanctions amidst poll meddling probe


USA senators said on Monday they were close to an agreement on legislation imposing new sanctions on Russian Federation, including a possible provision that would prevent the White House from easing sanctions without congressional approval.

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 United States elections, as well as over Moscow's aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

A group of Senators agreed Monday on legislation to strengthen sanctions against Russian Federation, including a provision that would require congressional review if the White House relaxed, suspended or terminated sanctions already in place.

Former President Barack Obama shuttered the Upper Brookville property along with a Centreville, Maryland, estate last December, when he also expelled dozens of Russian "intelligence operatives" and levied an initial round of sanctions against Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Earlier, Trump has indicated he is skeptical about additional sanctions and has been dismissive about the role of Russian interference in the US elections.

To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by Trump.

On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly backed a bill that would impose additional sanctions on Iran and Russian Federation.

During the hearing Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson urged senators to oppose the measure so that Trump and his administration would have "the flexibility to turn the heat up" if necessary. Brown also said the veto-proof vote on the sanctions package should send a strong signal to the White House. The only two senators not to vote for the bill were Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

According to Politico, a senior administration official stated that the "White House is concerned that the legislation would tie its hands on U.S. -Russia relations".

House and Senate committees are investigating Russia's meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign, with testimony scheduled on Tuesday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill. "This is a matter for the State Department".

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said the Senate has finally confronted Russian Federation. "I think what I wouldn't want to do is to close the channels off with something new that's ill-timed".