In another blow to President Donald Trump just right after his pet, Obamacare repeal bill, was rejected by the Senate for the fourth time on Friday morning, the Senate voted for a fresh round of #sanctions against #Russia. The president, even if he is against the legislation, cannot ease or waive the additional penalties on Russia.

On a 98-2 vote, the Senate approved the legislation and sent it to Trump who has yet to announce or tweet what he would do with the bill. The House voted 419-3 two days ago on the bill that sanctions Russia for its interference in the 2016 US elections and military aggression in Syria and Ukraine, The New York Daily News reported.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Even if Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election and Republicans – who are Trump’s allies control the majority in both chambers of the U.S. Congress – the legislators, nevertheless, overwhelmingly approved the sanctions bill which also affects North Korea and Iran.

Putin retaliates

Ahead of Trump signing or vetoing the sanctions legislation, Putin retaliated on Friday saying Moscow will seize two properties of the #American Embassy and reduce the number of US embassy staff in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok to 455 diplomatic and technical employees by Sept. 1, according to The Washington Post. It would be equal to the number of Russian diplomatic staff in Washington.

Moscow will also seize a warehouse and recreation center in the Russian capital city used by the American embassy staff as part of Putin’s retaliation, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Advertisements

Because Trump is feigning innocence of charges of colluding with Russia, he had not imposed on his own any sanctions against Moscow, while his predecessor, President Barack Obama, booted in December from the US 35 Russians who reportedly were intelligence operatives and seized two Russian diplomatic compounds.

The Russian Foreign Ministry then recommended to Putin to get even by also kicking out American diplomats, but the Russian president waited as he hoped his BFF would reverse the sanctions when he took over on Jan. 20, 2017. The suspicion of Russian meddling, however, prevented Trump from lifting the sanctions.

Bill is long overdue

The legislation ties Trump’s hands, but he could ill afford to veto it at a time when suspicion is high that his campaign colluded with Russia. Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain – who crossed party lines and voted against the Obamacare skinny repeal bill – said the sanctions legislation is long overdue as he called Putin a murderer and a thug.

“Over the last eight months what price has Russia paid for attacking our elections?” he asked. McCain added, “Very little.”