The Senate approved new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea by a vote of 98-2 on Thursday evening, rebuking President Trump’s overtures to Moscow and forcing him to make a difficult choice — sign the bill and anger Russian President Vladimir Putin, or veto it and rebuke not only his fellow Republicans but also many pro-Israel groups who favor a tougher line on Iran.
The bill, which was approved 419-3 in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, places new sanctions on Iran due to its ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. The bill has been praised by the pro-Israel American Israel Political Action Committee, which said in a press release shortly after the Senate vote that it “urges the president to sign it into law.”
It also places new sanctions on Russian officials and entities due to the Kremlin’s machinations during the 2016 presidential election — which Trump continues to deny took place. It also allows Congress to block Trump from easing or ending sanctions on Russia.
The White House has not yet announced whether Trump will veto the bill. Communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN on Thursday that Trump “may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are, or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
But Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker seemed to indicate to reporters that his fellow Republicans would support overriding the veto, saying, “It’s just not a good way to start a presidency to veto something and then be soundly overridden. It wouldn’t be something I would do, but they may choose to do it.”
The only two senators to vote against the bill were Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul.