CEDAR RAPIDS | Senators voted 98-2 Thursday to add financial sanctions on Russia and Iran to send a message that the United States will not tolerate their sponsorship of terrorism and meddling in other nations’ internal affairs, according to Sen. Joni Ernst.
“Well, everybody knows that I’ve always thought Russia’s not our friend,” the Iowa Republican told reporters Thursday during her weekly conference call.
The legislation, which now goes to the U.S. House, would require a congressional review before a president attempts to lift those sanctions. It’s similar to legislation the GOP backed when it thought President Barack Obama overstepped his authority in negotiating to end sanctions on Iran.
The legislation called for sanctions on Iran, which Ernst said continues “to be the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism around the globe.”
Through an amendment, senators added the Russia sanctions, to add weight to their concerns over Russia’s support of the “murderous Syrian regime,” military intrusion in Ukraine and “malicious” cyber activity, Ernst said.
It’s also a response to Russian attempts to interfere in the U.S. electoral process, she added.
“So we are trying to show some strength and send a clear message to Iran and Russia that they cannot do these types of actions,” Ernst said.
The “wonderfully bipartisan” vote is an example of how senators can work together to get things done despite divisions on overarching political and philosophical issues such as health care and tax reform, Ernst said.
She pointed to a bill she introduced with Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on military pay. It’s the second time they have been primary sponsors of legislation.
“Even members that might be greatly ideologically different, we’re still coming together to work on things that are important to us,” she said.
“Even if it’s only 2 percent of things that we will agree on, let’s work on the 2 percent and then we will find a path forward for the other 98 percent,” she said.
In the wake of the shooting of a congressman and four others Wednesday, Ernst said she hopes senators — and the nation — will “continue to remember that we need to come together.”
“We can do that by providing leadership and showing folks that no matter what divides us we will fund a way forward on the things that unify us,” she said.