By Debbie Gregory.
Legislation with bipartisan support that would increase sanctions against Russia for its alleged interference in November’s U.S. presidential election was introduced in the Senate.
Among the bill’s chief and co-sponsors are Senators Ben Cardin, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.
The legislation – called the “Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017 – is designed to show that key Republicans are intent on punishing Russia despite Trump’s desire to strengthen bilateral ties.
The measure was introduced four days after the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified version of a report accusing Russia of meddling in the election.
The new sanctions would impose visa bans and freeze the assets of “those who undermine the cybersecurity of public or private infrastructure and democratic institutions,” according to a summary of the legislation. It would also impose sanctions on transactions with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors, potentially making it harder for banks to do business with the Russian military and spy agencies.
The measure would authorize $100 million for the State Department and other U.S. agencies to counter Russian propaganda.
If the bill becomes law, the Trump administration would not be required to implement the sanctions. Senator Cardin said a waiver probably would be included in the bill to allow the president to waive the sanctions if it is in the best interests of the U.S.
“There’s separation of branches of government that you have to respect,” Cardin said. “We are not the enforcing arm. We set the policy, but the president has the responsibility to carry out the laws that we’ve passed. There’s ways that we can provide for accountability, but we don’t impose sanctions. It’s done by the administration.”