By Renae Reints
August 2, 2018

Congress has introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at implementing harsh sanctions on Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who helped propose the legislation, called it the “sanctions bill from hell,” Roll Call reports.

Backed by Graham, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the legislation aims to target Russia for the country’s “continued interference in our elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression in Crimea, and other activities,” says a joint statement.

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018 would impose new sanctions on “political figures, oligarchs, and family members” related to Putin. It would also require a two-thirds Senate vote for the U.S. to leave NATO, strengthen the nation’s commitment to the military alliance, and create an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the Department of State to strengthen security against cyber threats.

“Vladimir Putin continues to pose a growing threat to our country and allies,” said Menendez in a statement. “While Congress overwhelmingly passed a strong set of countermeasures last year, unfortunately, the Administration has not fully complied with that legislation. This bill is the next step in tightening the screws on the Kremlin.”

The bipartisan efforts come just as new reports reveal Facebook discovered and eliminated several accounts spreading misinformation across its platforms ahead of the midterm elections. The accounts were not directly linked back to Russia, but their behavior was similar to that of Russia’s “Internet Research Agency,” which targets U.S. residents on social media.

“The current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections,” said Graham in a statement. “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria.”

The bill, which would strengthen U.S. defense against such interference, still needs to pass the Senate, the House of Representatives, and President Trump himself before becoming law.

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