Leaders of both parties in the US Congress have agreed on legislation that allows fresh sanctions to punish Russia for alleged election meddling.
The new legislation would also sharply limit President Donald Trump’s ability to lift any sanctions against Russia. He has previously said he needs diplomatic leeway with the Kremlin.
Trump’s time in office has been dogged by claims that Russia tried to influence last year’s US election. Moscow denies any wrongdoing but several US investigations are looking into whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials.
Correspondents say the bipartisan agreement indicates determination in Congress to maintain a firm line against Russia, whatever Trump’s view. The president could veto the bill, but in doing so would fuel suspicion that he is too supportive of the Kremlin, correspondents say. On the other hand, if he signs it he would be imposing legislation that his administration is opposed to.
Senator Ben Cardin, the most senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said agreement was reached after “intense negotiations”.
“A nearly united Congress is poised to send President Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message,” he said.
The bill also covers the possibility of further sanctions against Iran and North Korea. It has already passed the Senate and the House is due to vote on it on Tuesday. The legislation would allow new sanctions against Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea as well as for its alleged meddling in the US election. -BBC