Senators are sending legislation slapping new sanctions on Moscow to President Trump’s desk, setting up a potential showdown with the White House over Russia.
Senators voted 98-2 on the bill, which would give Congress the ability to block Trump from lifting the Russia sanctions. It also includes new penalties against Iran and North Korea.
The move marks congressional Republicans’ first significant rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy, where the administration’s warmer stance toward Russia has drawn heavy skepticism from both parties.
Underscoring the bipartisan support for the bill, senators agreed to temporarily set aside their days-long fight on repealing ObamaCare so they could debate and pass the sanctions bill.
The vote comes hours after a top White House official floated that Trump could potentially veto the legislation.
Communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN that “he may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
But senators were quick to warn that vetoing a bill that passed the House 419-3 earlier this week would be a significant misstep for Trump. An earlier version of the bill, which did not include North Korea penalties, passed the Senate in a 98-2 vote.
“It’s just not a good way to start a presidency to veto something and then be soundly overridden,” the Foreign Relations chairman told reporters. “It’s not something I would do, but they might choose to do it.”
The Russia sanctions vote marks the GOP-controlled Congress’s biggest legislative victory to date. Major GOP agenda items, including ObamaCare repeal and tax reform, are running months behind schedule, and lawmakers do not yet have a deal on how to raise the debt ceiling or fund the government in the fall.
Senators started trying to get a deal to fast-track the legislation on Wednesday night. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted…