WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to codify U.S. sanctions on Russia and require authorization by Congress before they could be waived or terminated.
Brown discussed the legislation, which he introduced with U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Marco Rubio, R-Florida, in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
He said the measure was prodded by reports that President Donald Trump is considering removing sanctions enacted against Russia. Multiple intelligence agencies said Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee during the U.S. presidential election.
“This shows we will hold Russia accountable and America will not tolerate interference in our elections,” Brown said.
Brown said Trump’s willingness to remove sanctions against Russia contrasts with his campaign message of ‘America First.”
“His talk on sanctions sounds more like Russia first,” he said, stating the legislation is a chance for members of both parties “to work together to craft a tough sanctions regime.”
“The Ukrainian community in Ohio knows firsthand the dangers of unchecked Russian aggression,” Brown said. “Lifting sanctions now would only reward Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy – from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to our own U.S. election.”
Brown quoted McCain, who said “Every American should be alarmed” over the possibility of Trump easing sanctions.
“He said ‘Every American should be alarmed,’” Brown said. “Not every Democrat or every Republican. Every American.”
Brown said Russia needs to meet its obligations in Ukraine before sanctions are eased, while tougher sanctions are needed as a result of the cyberattacks.
“The first step is this common sense, bipartisan legislation that Senator McCain and I are working on,” Brown said.
Brown’s Republican counterpart from Ohio, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, is also working on legislation regarding Russia and has stated his opposition to Trump lifting sanctions.