U.S. Senators Prepare Massive New Russia Sanctions Bill

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has proposed a far-reaching bill aimed at punishing Russia for its “broad spectrum of bad behavior” that will for the first time force the Trump administration to assess whether Russia is a state sponsor of terror, Reuters reported.

The new law would also require a two-thirds Senate vote if Trump decides to leave NATO, a report on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s net worth and assets, and title insurance companies in the U.S. to report information on who owns entities that buy high-priced homes in the country. The law would also hammer Russia with a host of additional sanctions and new ways of cracking down on Russian disinformation and cyber-crimes.

Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who’s one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said the legislation is a response to President Donald Trump’s “willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression” and seeks to ramp up pressure on Russia through a wide range of punitive measures.

“Putin’s actions cannot be tolerated, and the consequences of inaction are quickly compounding,” Menendez said in a statement.

“That is why we are introducing a proposal to actually address the realities of the Kremlin threat in a holistic way, all while sending a crystal clear message to our adversaries that the U.S. Congress will protect our institutions, allies, and values even if the President chooses not to do so,” he added.

The legislation sets out sanctions that would target Russian banks that support efforts to interfere in foreign elections; and individuals deemed to “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina did not mention the President or the administration’s policies on Russia in his own statement Wednesday but highlighted the ways the proposed legislation serves as a meaningful rebuke toward Moscow.

“The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed — and a direct result of Putin’s continued desire to undermine American democracy. The sanctions and measures we propose are designed to respond in the strongest possible fashion,” he added.

President Trump would have to sign the bill before it became law.