“We're not going to do a Russia sanctions bill,” Corker told POLITICO on Monday.
Instead, Committee Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee and ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland have agreed to move forward on a measure to counter Russian influence in Eastern Europe without using sanctions as well as an Iran sanctions bill.
“The ranking member and I are in strong agreement on a pathway forward and that's what we're going to do. We're going to do an Iran sanctions bill. It'll be done toward the end of this work period. We're also working together on a bill to push back against Russia in Europe and what they're doing, and those are the two courses of action that we're taking.”
The measure to counter Russian influence is expected to draw from a bill put forward by Cardin in January but will strip the measure of its sanctions. The Iran sanctions bill was introduced in March by Corker and has bipartisan support. It’s in retaliation for Iran’s ballistic missile development, support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups and human rights violations. Cardin’s sanctions bill is co-sponsored by 10 Republican defense hawks, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida. Cardin spokesman Sean Bartlett confirmed the agreement in an email.
“Senator Cardin stands by the series of proposals he's laid out on Russia but looks forward to working with Chairman Corker on this bill as an initial step to hold Russia accountable for its destabilizing activities,” Bartlett said.
Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations panel, indicated Monday he was unhappy with the decision to table the Russia sanctions measure for now.
“I think anytime is a good time for Russia sanctions given everything they've done,” Rubio said.
Of course the timing of the Senate's shift away from the 'Putin is Hitler' narrative, given President Trump's phone call with the Russian president today, is intriguing.
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