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U.S. Senate Overwhelmingly Backs Stronger Sanctions Against Russia, Iran

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (file photo)
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (file photo)

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation that included tougher new sanctions against Russia and Iran, making it more difficult for President Donald Trump to ease existing restrictions without congressional approval.

The Senate on June 15 voted 98-2 to pass the legislation, which will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval before being sent to Trump for his signature.

Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York) said, "Any idea of the president's that he can lift sanctions on his own for whatever reason are dashed by this legislation."

The measure looks to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and to make Iran pay a price for its "continued support of terrorism."

A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a plea for patience from lawmakers in relation to Russia, saying the administration feared being "handcuffed" by the new measure.

By tying Iran and Russia together, Congress has made it more difficult for Trump to oppose the action.

The Russia amendment was part of a larger measure that targets Iran for sanctions over its ballistic missile program, human rights violations, and other issues.

The president, who has been highly critical of Iran, would have to reject the tougher sanctions against Tehran if he rejected other parts of the legislation.

In the House, the Republican speaker, Paul Ryan, has signaled backing for the measures, although his party’s support for the measure may not be as strong as in the Senate.

Based on reporting by Reuters, CNN, and AFP