United States senators sent Russian Federation a message Wednesday with a almost unanimous, bipartisan vote on a set of sanctions as part of the larger Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act, but they also were likely sending President Donald Trump a little memo as well.
The 97-2 vote, which came as part of a broader debate over sanctions on Iran, marked a rare spot of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, who said they hoped it would be the beginning of more such deals.
The US Congress has been empowered to block any efforts by President Donald Trump to scale back sanctions against Russian Federation.
If passed in the House of Representatives and signed into law by Trump, it would put into law sanctions previously established via former President Barack Obama's executive orders, including some on Russian energy projects.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Trump administration was "committed to existing sanctions against Russia" but was "still reviewing the new Russian Federation sanctions amendment".
Democrats insisted that the Congress should also respond to Russia's aggressions, including its annexation of Ukraine, attacks in Syria and interference in the US election.
Crapo says Russia's President Vladimir Putin has become increasingly belligerent, nationalistic and autocratic.
The White House has been silent on the proposal and administration officials have been unclear on what the official position is. The Trump administration had considered lifting Russian sanctions in the past, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opposed the new legislation, worrying it could hurt the US' ability to have a "constructive dialogue" with Russia.
One senator, Democratic Sen. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted against the amendment.
Trump has said he wants to improve U.S. -Russia relations and has expressed foreign policy views on a number of topics that are friendlier to Russian interests than the policies of past U.S. administrations.
On the Iran sanctions, despite some opposition from a few officials in the Obama Administration, the plan focuses extra sanctions on Iranian support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and most importantly the work on a ballistic missile program. Before passing the combined Russia-Iran measure, the chamber also attached a bipartisan amendment signaling support for NATO's Article 5 - which Trump earlier this month notably declined to endorse in Brussels - by a unanimous vote. But in a Senate panel Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned against passing a measure, saying it would make it more hard to improve U.S.