McConnell: New Russia sanctions an 'initial step'
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill On The Money: Senior GOP senator warns Trump against shutdown | Treasury sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | HQ2 deal brings new scrutiny on Amazon | Senate confirms Bowman to Fed board Senior GOP senator warns Trump against partial shutdown MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday called new sanctions against Russia an "initial step" but reiterated that lawmakers will review Moscow's meddling in the U.S. presidential election next year.  

"Sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step, however late in coming," he said in a statement. "As the next Congress reviews Russian actions against networks associated with the U.S. election, we must also work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response.”
 
McConnell has backed allowing the Senate Intelligence Committee to probe the CIA's finding that Russia interfered in the White House race to help secure President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE's victory. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to dig into intelligence agencies' findings, as well as hold broader hearings on cybersecurity. 
 
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McConnell added that the Russians "are not our friends" and suggested the Obama administration has fallen short in preventing Moscow from meddling in U.S. politics.
 
"Clearly the Obama administration has not yet dissuaded them from attempting to breach our cybersecurity systems, or harass our diplomats in Moscow," he said. 
 
He also accused President Obama of reacting "passively" to a resurgent Russia, and relying too heavily on rhetoric to defend U.S. foreign policy interests. 
 
"Countries unfriendly to the United States have employed cyberattacks, coercion, relied on proxy forces and have harassed American ships and aircraft," the Senate Republican leader said. 

The Obama administration announced a slate of economic sanctions on Thursday, targeting two of Russia’s main intelligence organizations — the GRU and the FSB — four individual GRU officers, three companies that provided support to the GRU, and six individuals implicated in the campaign over its meddling in the U.S. election.

The White House is also expelling 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the country and closing two facilities used by the Russians.

McConnell's counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters Amazon fleeced New York, Virginia with HQ2 picks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker MORE (R-Wis.), separately called the sanctions an "overdue" step from the administration. 

Senators in both parties are pledging to push for additional sanctions against Russia next year. 

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Cardin wins reelection in Maryland Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide MORE (D-Md.) said Thursday that he will introduce legislation in January that will include "comprehensive enhanced sanctions." Meanwhile, Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain would have said ‘enough’ to acrimony in midterms, says Cindy McCain Trump nominates Jim Gilmore for ambassador post Arizona New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill MORE (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement that they will "lead the effort" to impose stronger sanctions. 

The move could set up Congress to butt heads with the incoming Trump administration. Lawmakers have publicly worried for months that Trump will be too friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
 
Trump has repeatedly dismissed reports that the CIA believes Russia meddled in the election to help him win. He told reporters on Wednesday that he thinks "we ought to get on with our lives" when asked about sanctions.