Two senators are stepping up their efforts to advance Russia sanctions legislation, asking key Senate committees to hold a hearing and then vote on a bill by early next month.
“The Senate has the opportunity to highlight to the American public the real threats that foreign interference in our future elections pose, and to act to deter future foreign interference and defend our country,” Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) wrote in a July 19 letter
to top members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Banking committees.
They added that the November elections “are just 110 days away” and “the time to come together and act is now.”
The request for committee hearings and a subsequent vote comes after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he had asked
the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees to hold hearings on Russia sanctions legislation that overwhelmingly cleared Congress last year
, and to make recommendations for additional legislation if needed.
But Rubio and Van Hollen are asking the two panels to go a step further.
Rubio and Van Hollen want both committees to hold a hearing before the Senate leaves town for a weeklong break that starts Aug. 6. They also want the Banking Committee to vote on their legislation during the same time period.
“Given the urgency of the challenge before our nation, we urge your respective committee to work to hold its hearing and for the Senate Banking Committee to mark up the DETER Act during this work period,” they wrote in the letter addressed to the top Republican and Democrat on each panel.
Their bill — the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act — would slap new sanctions on Russia if it meddles in future elections, as determined by the director of national intelligence.
Senators are under growing pressure to crack down on Russia after this week’s Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, where Trump voiced skepticism about Moscow’s election meddling, even though special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians a few days earlier for allegedly hacking into Democratic servers.
“Russia’s ongoing elections interference against our great nation poses direct threats to our democracy, our democratic institutions, and our society,” Rubio and Van Hollen wrote in their letter.