Supporters of new sanctions against Russia for its alleged 'meddling' in the 2016 US presidential election are facing waning enthusiasm in Congress, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, author of the so-called DETER Act, has told Bloomberg.
"We face a little bit of sanctions fatigue around here these days," Rubio said. "Hopefully we'll get more people on board."
According to Bloomberg, lawmakers are divided regarding how to punish Moscow, given potential 'unintended economic consequences', as well as difficulties associated with passing legislation in a divided Congress and a lack of support from the Trump White House.
"Sanctions can often be a double-edged sword," Republican Senator and Homeland Security Committee chairman Ron Johnson said. "So we really should take a little bit of a step back and assess where we are and what we can really do."
Van Hollen defended the 'deterrent' sanctions proposal, saying his bill was not about new sanctions immediately, but about "sending a clear signal that if you screw around in our elections again, there's going to be swift and severe punishment."
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen told Bloomberg that Congress's faltering interest in new sanctions could pick up again over Russian "activities in Venezuela" (where Russia is providing support for the government). "If we see those kinds of activities continue, there will be a growing appetite for additional sanctions," Shaheen hopes.
Rubio and Van Hollen's bill is one of two proposed sanctions bills targeting Russia. The other, introduced by Republican Lindsey Graham, Democrat Bob Menendez and the late Republican John McCain, is known as the DASKA Act, and proposes similarly 'tough' measures including bans on operations with Russian state banks, sanctions on investment in Russian energy companies, and restrictions on Russian individuals accused of cyberattacks.
The US has already slapped Russia with well over two dozen packages of sanctions measures, with restrictions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine (for which Washington has blamed Moscow), over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as the March 2018 poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK (for which the UK and US blame Russia).