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Senators plot new Russia sanctions as committee leaders plan hearings

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) testifies before the Senate Committee on Finance on Sept. 25, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Key Senate Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to work with Democrats to end spending bills before the new fiscal year begins. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)

Two of the Senate’s many Russia hawks outlined plans to draft new sanctions against the country, just as leaders of the committees of jurisdictions unveiled plans for hearings.

“Just as Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to challenge American power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad, the United States must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation and not waver in our rejection of his effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Graham and Menendez are the chairman of the State Department’s appropriations subcommittee and ranking member of the authorizing committee, respectively.

The two senators want to enhance current sanctions against Russian oligarchs and the country’s energy sector. They also want to further boost efforts to counter Russian propaganda, both against the United States and throughout Europe.

The announcement from Graham and Menendez came the same day that the chairmen of the Foreign Relations and Banking Committees announced additional hearings and briefings about U.S. policy toward the Russian Federation.

“We worked closely together to write the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which substantially expanded sanctions on Russia and overwhelmingly passed both the Senate and House last summer, and are eager to continue the important work being done by our committees to push back on Russia,” said Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo of Idaho.

In the Senate, the Banking panel has significant jurisdiction with respect to sanctions policy.

Corker, who is also a member of Banking, will kick off the series with Wednesday’s previously scheduled hearing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Senators continue to seek significant information about what President Donald Trump may have agreed to with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

The leaders of the two committees are sure to get plenty of input from senators with respect to new sanctions, as well as efforts to try to thwart future Russian interference that is designed to undermine American democracy.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Trump declared himself “very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election.”


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