A U.S. Senate panel has passed a bill that is designed to punish Russia for its alleged interference in democratic processes abroad as well as "malign" actions in Syria and aggression against Ukraine.
The bipartisan bill – described by Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina), who is a co-sponsor, as the "sanctions bill from hell" – was approved 17-5 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 18, RFE/RL wrote.
"This strong vote indicates an overwhelming desire by the Senate as a whole to push back against Russian interference in our election and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's misadventures throughout the world," Graham said in a statement after the vote.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, one of the five senators who voted against the Defending American Security From Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA), said the bill is too broad and could have "unintended consequences" if it is passed in its current form.
Graham said he is ready to work with senators "to improve" DASKA ahead of a floor vote, but reiterated that it "must be strong to be meaningful."
First introduced in 2018, DASKA is the latest Russia-related legislation to be discussed on Capitol Hill in recent weeks as Congress wraps up unfinished business ahead of the holiday recess.
DASKA targets new Russian sovereign debt, banks that support the Kremlin's efforts to "undermine democratic institutions in other countries," individuals selling goods or services to the country's oil industry, its cyberindustry, as well as figures close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.