WASHINGTON ― In a rare showing of bipartisanship, 10 senators from both sides of the aisle will introduce legislation Tuesday to step up sanctions against Russia.
Lawmakers, angered by Moscow’s alleged interference in the U.S. election process, have been discussing retaliatory action for weeks. But the legislation on sanctions that will be unveiled Tuesday goes beyond responding to Russian cyber-activity. It also mandates new measures related to Russia’s 2014 military incursion into Ukraine and its ongoing support of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. The bill would codify some of the sanctions put in place by outgoing President Barack Obama as well as impose new punitive measures.
Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, led the effort. They are joined by four Democrats (Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois) and four Republicans (Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rob Portman of Ohio).
With five Republicans on board, the bill has a good chance of being passed in the Senate, setting lawmakers up for an early showdown between the GOP and President-elect Donald Trump.
Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested Monday that the incoming commander in chief could roll back sanctions against Russia or decline to enforce new measures. In response to accusations of Russia’s election-related hacking, Obama imposed sanctions last month on Moscow’s intelligence services and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. Those actions, Conway said, were “disproportionate” and “punitive.”