BREAKING NEWS President approves federal aid to help with April storm recovery Full Story
WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Senators coalesce around a Russia sanctions bill but hurdles remain

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are forging ahead with plans to push back on the fallout ...

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 8:25 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 8:25 AM

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are forging ahead with plans to push back on the fallout from President Donald Trump's comments at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as lawmakers once again Wednesday are feeling the whiplash of the President's inconsistent comments on Russia.

"There's a lot of discussion post the Helsinki press conference that we are all engaged in, so we are figuring it out," said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who demanded a more forceful response from Trump.

"I wanted him to say that despite what the intelligence community in Russia or what Putin might be saying or what is said here amongst our intelligence community is 'No more, knock it off, stay away, get out' and demand that Russia stay away when it comes to our elections, and I didn't hear that and I didn't hear that in his walk back so I'm still waiting," Murkowski said.

While plans are still coalescing, senators were once again in the uncertain position of having to respond to new Trump comments. Just a day after Trump attempted to walk back his remarks from Monday, the President appeared to again inject confusion when he answered "no" after a reporter asked if Russians were still a threat to the US. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said she spoke with Trump about his answer, said the President wasn't responding "no" to the question, but was declining to answer it when he said "no."

"The President said, 'Thank you very much,' and said no to answering questions. The President and his administration are working very hard to make sure Russia is unable to (meddle) in our elections," Sanders said.

In the meantime, lawmakers were left trying to interpret what Trump said. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said he was happy to hear that Sanders had clarified Trump's comment.

"Well, that's good to hear 'cause if it was no to the idea that Russia was interfering that would have been very problematic, dumbfounding," Graham said. "I am very relieved."

"When I heard that he said no it really bothered me 'cause that's a disconnect between the intel," Graham said.

In recent days, dozens of Republican lawmakers have denounced Russia and backed the US intelligence community, making clear there is no daylight between themselves and the findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US elections and still poses a risk to upcoming elections.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has worked alongside Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen to craft legislation that would automatically subject Russia -- or any other country -- to sanctions if they interfered in upcoming elections. The senators introduced the legislation back in January, but it's gotten new traction this week following the Helsinki summit.

"I feel really good the language we have could pass. We just have to find a way to get it going," said Rubio, who predicted the measure could get a veto-proof 85 votes in the Senate. "Because no matter what's going on with all the noise, the debate, the stuff on the news every day, we're going to have an election very soon and we need to act quickly to put in place penalties to discourage another attack."

But sanctions legislation can be notoriously complicated to write, and the broad scope of the measure -- which would snap stiff sanctions on Russia's banking and energy sectors if the director of national intelligence found evidence of interference in the 2018 election -- could have spillover effects that would hit US businesses.

"That's part of the discussion we're having," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber. "Obviously, we would need to make it targeted so we wouldn't have ancillary damage to US companies or American interests. It is not exactly easy to craft that kind of legislation, but I think there seems to be some bipartisan support for sending that message and letting Mr. Putin know that if he keeps this up there will be consequences."

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already canceled much of the annual August recess, citing the legislative and nominations agenda facing Senate Republicans. One GOP aide called any such legislation "a potential magnet" for amendments that could create problems for the bill given its subject matter.

Rubio said he wants to find compromise language that could pass quickly on the floor because he is concerned the legislation could get bogged down in the Banking Committee or in a lengthy floor debate.

"If the bill is going to get to the floor and then becomes a vehicle for all kinds of amendments that are unrelated to the core of the bill, than it's going to eat up all this floor time and it's going to be difficult for us to get a vote on it," Rubio said.

Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, also released a resolution with Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, that would assert support for the intelligence community and endorse its findings that Russia intervened in the US elections.

"This body must reaffirm that we stand with the men and women of the Department of Justice, who have brought these 12 indictments against individuals from the Russian Federation who interfered with our elections," Flake said in a statement. "I hope the President will take the word of our intelligence agencies rather than the empty words of a dictator."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33591

Reported Deaths: 1204
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds269748
DeSoto181818
Madison138236
Jones117349
Harrison104014
Rankin103515
Neshoba102274
Lauderdale94281
Forrest93943
Scott79215
Jackson72717
Washington64310
Copiah63115
Leake61320
Lee58621
Holmes57341
Oktibbeha56828
Wayne55416
Warren55320
Yazoo5436
Grenada5357
Lowndes52613
Leflore52256
Lincoln50935
Lamar5027
Pike47020
Sunflower4528
Lafayette4374
Monroe43635
Covington4195
Panola3996
Bolivar38018
Attala37524
Simpson3733
Newton35710
Adams34019
Pontotoc3266
Tate32313
Marion31312
Claiborne29310
Chickasaw29219
Winston28711
Pearl River27632
Noxubee2758
Marshall2693
Jasper2676
Clay25511
Union23811
Smith23412
Walthall2267
Coahoma2156
Clarke21425
Lawrence1992
Yalobusha1938
Kemper18014
Carroll17311
Tallahatchie1664
Humphreys15910
Montgomery1493
Calhoun1475
Tippah14411
Itawamba1418
Hancock13813
Webster12811
Tunica1193
Jefferson1173
Jefferson Davis1164
Prentiss1123
Greene10810
Amite1063
George1023
Wilkinson959
Tishomingo921
Quitman891
Alcorn852
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin492
Benton420
Sharkey420
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 94°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 102°
Oxford
Few Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Starkville
Broken Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 95°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather