The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Russia and to compel President Donald Trump to obtain politicians’ permission before easing any sanctions on Moscow.
The sanctions bill comes as politicians investigate possible meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion by Republican Trump’s campaign.
New sanctions against Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which stands accused of supporting “terrorism”; and North Korea, for its missile tests, are also included in the bill backed by house members.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed an earlier version of the bill with near-unanimous support. The House of Representatives added the North Korea measures after becoming frustrated with the Senate’s failure to advance a bill it passed in May.
Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the three countries “are threatening vital US interests and destabilising their neighbours. It is well past time that we forcefully respond”.
It was unclear how quickly the bill would make its way to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto.
The bill still must be passed by the Senate, which is mired in debate over efforts to overhaul the US healthcare system as politicians try to clear the decks to leave Washington, DC, for their summer recess.
A prominent member of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Konstantin Kosachyov, responded on Wednesday, saying that Moscow should prepare a “painful” response to new US sanctions.
“Judging by the unanimous vote in the US House of Representatives on the sanctions package against Russia, Iran and North Korea, there will be no breakthrough [in U.S.-Russian relations] … In fact, further degradation of bilateral cooperation is becoming inevitable,” Kosachyov said on his Facebook page.