WASHINGTON âÂ The Senate voted decisively on Thursday to approve a new package of stiff financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, sending the popular bill to PresidentÂ Trump for his signature after weeks of intense negotiations.
Never in doubt, however, was a cornerstone of the legislation that bars Trump from easing or waiving the additional penalties on Russia unless Congress agrees. The provisions were included to assuage concerns among lawmakers that the presidentâs push for better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin might lead him to relax the penalties without first securing concessions from the Kremlin.
The Senate passed the bill, 98-2, two days after the House pushed the measure through by an overwhelming margin, 419-3. Both are veto proof numbers as the White House has wavered on whether the president would sign the measure into law.
The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the billâs passage was long overdue, a jab at Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called Putin a murderer and a thug.
âOver the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?â McCain asked. âVery little.â
Trump had privately expressed frustration over Congressâ ability to limit or override the power of the president on national security matters, according to Trump administration officials and advisers. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.
But faced with heavy bipartisan…