Russia-Iran sanctions bill heads toward vote with bipartisan backing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday teed up a final vote as soon as this week on a bipartisan Iran sanctions bill that is also set to include a bipartisan agreement to boost penalties against the Russian government and make it more difficult for President Donald Trump to lift them.

McConnell moved to wind down debate on the Iran sanctions bill, which counts 58 cosponsors in both parties, with a key procedural vote expected Thursday. The first step in the legislation’s path to passage will come Wednesday, when senators are expected to clear a bipartisan agreement that boosts sanctions against Moscow and requires Trump to seek congressional approval of any future decision to ease or eliminate punitive measures against Russia.

"This is one of those areas, in a very tumultuous political climate here in the Senate, where we are able to find strong, united agreement that we need to move forward," Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a lead negotiator on the Russia sanctions deal, told reporters Tuesday.

Even as Democrats push back hard at the GOP’s closed-door work on an Obamacare repeal bill, they are preparing to support a Russia sanctions agreement that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushed to make as stringent as possible.

The Russia deal shows that "Democrats and Republicans are joining together to warn the president he cannot lift sanctions without our approval," Schumer told reporters Tuesday. "I hope it will pass with a strong bipartisan vote. That’s what I expect will happen."

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