By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — 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 President Donald 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 president’s 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 bill’s 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.