The bill, imposing another round of sanctions on Russian Federation, was passed in a 97-2 vote on Wednesday and is yet to be considered by the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for an amendment limiting the Trump administration's ability to unilaterally ease sanctions on Russian Federation. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, both Republicans, were the only votes against it - bolsters existing sanctions and would allow Congress to thwart any presidential effort to curtail sanctions without congressional approval.
"We would ask for the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue", Tillerson said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Crossing what's become a large partisan divide in Washington, the sanctions passed 97-2 as part of a bill that has also taken aim at Iran, a strong ally of Russia's. "Today marks a significant shift of power back to the American people's representatives, something that has been a top priority of mine since becoming the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than four years ago". "This bill is the first time Congress has come together since the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, to do just that", Corker added.
The US Senate in Congress has voted almost unanimously to impose new sanctions against Iran and Russian Federation, setting up a possible confrontation with the administration of President Donald Trump as it attempts to improve relations with Moscow, PressTV reported.
In addition, within 180 days after the introduction of amendments, the head of the U.S. Treasury Department must submit a report on the possible consequences of extending sanctions on Russia's sovereign debt to the Congress.
On the Iran sanctions, despite some opposition from a few officials in the Obama Administration, the plan focuses extra sanctions on Iranian support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and most importantly the work on a ballistic missile program. "I understand we take away some of their prerogatives, but in reality we give them a stronger hand that they can play with Russian Federation".
Sanctions are authorized on Russia's mining and shipping sectors as well, and the government is required to study the USA economy's exposure to Russian state-owned enterprises.
While acknowledging the necessity to hold Russian Federation accountable for its alleged meddling in USA elections, Tillerson also emphasized the importance of a "constructive dialogue" with Russian Federation.
Under the amendment, any executive sanctions imposed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration can not be lifted without congressional review.