Senate

Graham, Menendez crafting bill to crack down on Russia

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Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are working on legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia as Congress faces pressure to crack down in the wake of the Helsinki summit.

“Just as Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to challenge American power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad, the United States must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation and not waver in our rejection of his effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Menendez and Graham said in a joint statement referring to the Russian leader on Tuesday.

{mosads}In addition to making sure the 2017 sanctions legislation, which passed Congress overwhelmingly, is fully implemented, the forthcoming Graham-Menendez bill includes new sanctions on Russia’s debt and energy and financial sectors.

It would also target cyber actors in Russia and Russian oligarchs.

The legislation comes as senators are weighing how to respond to Moscow after President Trump refused to denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 president election during last week’s summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said on Tuesday that they would hold Russia sanctions hearings, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) publicly endorsed the idea last week.

In addition to the forthcoming Menendez-Graham legislation, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) have a bill that would slap sanctions on Russia if the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) determined the Kremlin meddled in future elections.

But Graham told reporters that he wanted legislation that would automatically slap new sanctions on Russia.

“Yes, I would even go further. I’m going to introduce legislation that imposes sanctions and they can be waived only if there’s a certification by the DNI and others that they’ve stopped. …I want to go ahead and assume they’re doing it because they are,” he told reporters last week.

In addition to new sanctions, the Graham-Menendez bill would require Senate approval for the United States withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, establish the National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and authorize assistance for fighting Russian interference in Eastern Europe.

Tags Bob Corker Bob Menendez Chris Van Hollen Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mike Crapo Mitch McConnell

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