Russia Sanctions Advanced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, despite resistance from the Trump administration and concerns about collateral economic damage.

The Republican-led panel voted 17-5 to advance the bill that would sanction Russian individuals, cyber operations and liquid natural gas export facilities. It calls for the president to prescribe regulations for sanctions on sovereign debt issued 90 days after the law is enacted.

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, or DASKA, would also create a new cyberspace office within the State Department and restrict any attempts to remove the U.S. from NATO. The bipartisan measure is sponsored by South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez.

Graham called the legislation the “sanctions bill from hell” when he first introduced it in August 2018, referring to the harsh provisions including the restrictions on Russian sovereign debt. He introduced a revised version of the bill, S. 482, earlier this year.

Concerns about foreign influence in next year’s election has brought a renewed focus on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and the committee’s Democratic minority pressured Republicans to act on the measure.

Two industry groups -- the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute -- wrote to members of the Foreign Relations Committee to oppose the measure ahead of its consideration.

It’s unclear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the DASKA Act to a vote in the full Senate. Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch opposes the measure, even though he allowed Wednesday’s committee vote to proceed.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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