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US Lawmakers Reach Deal on Iran-Russia Sanctions Bill

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on Tuesday on a package of bills on sanctions covering Russia, Iran and North Korea
Capitol Building is the home of the US Congress in Washington, DC.  Capitol Building is the home of the US Congress in Washington, DC.

US Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on legislation that allows new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, leading congressional Democrats said on Saturday, in a bill that would limit any potential effort by US President Donald Trump to try to lift sanctions against Moscow.

The Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act, which was passed by the US Senate a month ago, was held up in the House of Representatives after Republicans proposed including North Korea sanctions in the bill.

The house is set to vote on Tuesday on a package of bills on sanctions covering Russia, Iran and North Korea, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office. The measure will "hold them accountable for their [alleged] dangerous actions," McCarthy claimed in a statement on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Under the proposed bill, Trump must submit to Congress a report on proposed actions that would "significantly alter" US foreign policy in connection with Russia, including easing sanctions.

Congress would have at least 30 days to hold hearings and then vote to uphold or reject Trump's proposed changes.

Many lawmakers hope the bill will send a message to Trump to keep a strong line against Russia.

Trump, who met Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month and said it was an "honor" to meet him, has been criticized for seeking to reset US-Russian relations. His administration has been bogged down by ongoing investigations of possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

With the bill, Republicans and Democrats are seeking to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and for alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The legislation would also impose sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile development program and its activities in the region, especially the support provided by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps for Tehran's allies in their campaigns to fight terrorists.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Russia's "outrageous and unacceptable" behavior in the US election and in Europe "demand that we have strong statutory sanctions enacted as soon as possible."

In Brussels, the European Union sounded the alarm about the US move to step up sanctions on Russia.

The European Commission warned of possibly "wide and indiscriminate" and "unintended consequences," notably on the EU's efforts to diversify energy sources away from Russia.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said a strong sanctions bill is "essential", and said in a statement that he expects "the house and senate will act on this legislation promptly, on a broad bipartisan basis."

Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the agreement was reached after "intense negotiations."

 

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