The US Congress is producing an unusual outpouring of bills, resolutions and new sanctions proposals to push back at President Donald Trump’s approach to Vladimir Putin, shore up relations with NATO allies and prevent Russian interference in the midterm election.
However, it remains uncertain if any of their efforts will yield results. Lawmakers are struggling with internal party divisions as well as their own onslaught of proposals as they try to move beyond a symbolic rebuke of Trump's interactions with the Russian president and exert influence both at home and abroad. And while many Democrats are eager for quick votes, some Republicans prefer none at all.
As reported by AP, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a rare warning that Russia "better quit messing around" in US elections as he tasked two Senate committees to start working on sanctions-related legislation and other measures to deter Russia.
Still, the past few weeks have been one of the rare moments in the Trump era that Republicans and Democrats have jointly asserted the role of Congress as a counterweight to the administration.
One bill that has been given a go-ahead nod from McConnell is legislation from Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen that attempts to warn Putin off more election interference by setting up tough new sanctions on Russia if it does try to intervene.
The measure is slowly making its way through the Senate Banking Committee, but some lawmakers in the House and Senate have raised concerns that it casts too wide a net and could cause problems for allied nations that do business with Russia.
Rubio says he is willing to adjust the legislation to meet any concerns, but says the goal is for Russia to understand there will be a price to pay for further election interference.
House Democrats were similarly thwarted in their attempts to slap new sanctions on anyone who has interfered in US elections and bolster election security funds to the states, as Republicans blocked those votes.