US lawmakers pass bill for tougher sanctions on Russia, Iran, N. Korea

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Washington, July 26 (IANS) The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that will slap tougher sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, media reports said.

Congressmen voted 419-3 to pass the bill, with three Republicans — Justin Amash, Jimmy Duncan and Thomas Massie — voting against the bill.

The overwhelming support for the bill, which was voted under special procedures to pass with a two-thirds majority, means that the House could override a presidential veto, Xinhua news agency reported.

The measure aims at targeting key Russian officials in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as sanctions against Iran and the North Korea in response to their weapons programs.

“These three regimes in different parts of the world are threatening vital US interests, and they are destabilizing their neighbours,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said on Tuesday. “It is well past time that we forcefully respond.”

In addition to imposing new sanctions on the three countries, the bill also grants Congress the power to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russia. This came despite that Trump administration officials had called on lawmakers to grant “flexibility” to the White House in dealing with Russia.

According to the bill, Congress will have power to veto any decision made by the president that would “significantly alter” US foreign policy in connection with Russia.

The White House on Sunday signaled that President Donald Trump would accept the new legislation despite initial opposition.

“We support where the legislation is now, and will continue to work with the House and Senate to put those tough sanctions in place on Russia,” said newly appointed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

–IANS

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