Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wants to put Russia sanctions back on lawmakers’ agenda, even if it means facing off with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, is planning to introduce two amendments at a committee meeting Thursday in an effort to increase sanctions on Moscow. The sanctions are meant to punish Russia over its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
One of the amendments would be tacked on to a bill to introduce new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and other activities, according to Shaheen’s office. The other would be attached to a bill designed to help counter Russian meddling in Europe through means other than sanctions.
"The foot-dragging on Russian sanctions has gone on long enough," said Ryan Nickel, a spokesman for Shaheen. "There’s bipartisan agreement that it’s past time for the Senate to deliver a strong message to the Kremlin."
The amendments incorporate previous Russia sanctions legislation that Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has been hesitant to take up, and Corker is expected to block Shaheen’s efforts.
The Tennessee Republican has said he’d rather wait until the Senate Intelligence Committee finishes its investigation into the alleged Russian malfeasance before going after Moscow using sanctions.
A few weeks ago, Corker reached an agreement with Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, to avoid Russian sanctions measures for now. That decision irked Democrats as well as some Republicans who are eager to move against Moscow.
It also came amid growing concern about President Donald Trump’s views on Russia. The president has dismissed intelligence assessments that Russia helped swing the 2016 election in his favor and has tried to mend fences with the Kremlin.
Corker aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. A Cardin aide declined to comment on Shaheen’s plans but reiterated that Cardin strongly supports sanctioning Russia over its destabilizing activities.