United States senators are preparing a bipartisan draft bill about additional sanctions against Russia in connection with its hacker attacks on American political institutions and its activities in Ukraine and Syria. The Voice of America reported that the lawmakers confirmed this information when the Senate convened for a new session of Congress.
Senator Ben Cardin, the leading Democrat of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters in Capitol Hill on January 3 that he was working on the draft bill together with a large group of senators, which includes both Democrats and Republicans. He expressed hope that the bill would be made public this week. "It is going to be a comprehensive bill that will contain the permission of Congress to impose additional sanctions against Russia,” Cardin said.
The White House and the U.S. intelligence community believe that Moscow tried to interfere in the election process in the United States with the help of hacker attacks on political organizations of the Democratic Party and that it attempted to sow distrust of the U.S. government.
In response to these actions as well as “inappropriate treatment” of the U.S. diplomats abroad, the White House expelled 35 Russian diplomats last week.
Cardin said that the bill will be partially focused on Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe, including the annexation of the Crimea, as well as its role in the Middle East where Moscow supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Cardin did not specify whether the bill will force President-elect Donald Trump to make a decision about the sanctions, or whether it will consolidate the sanctions announced by the White House last week, which Trump will be able to cancel after taking office if he so wishes.
"It will complement the actions of the White House and progress further,” Cardin explained. “It is a complement, but there exists a principle of separation of powers."