WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed an amendment increasing sanctions on Russia that included three provisions authored by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to counter Russian influence. By a vote of 97-2, the Senate amended an Iran sanctions bill to include provisions codifying President Barack Obama’s sanctions on Russia for interfering in U.S. elections and enacting new sanctions in response to Russia’s illicit cyber activities, human rights violations and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime. The amendment included three Murphy-authored provisions passed by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. Murphy previously worked with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to pass the bipartisan Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which was signed into law by President Obama last December.
Murphy’s measures strengthen the U.S. Department of State Global Engagement Center (GEC) to fight Russian propaganda and disinformation, counter Russian energy bullying in Eastern Europe and the Balkans by enhancing energy security and providing technical assistance, and establish a pilot program for improving governance and fighting corruption among countries vulnerable to Russian interference. To build on last year’s bill, Murphy and Portman co-introduced the provision authorizing more funding for the GEC and prioritize countering Russian disinformation. All three of Murphy’s provisions stem from recommendations laid out in Rethinking the Battlefield, Murphy’s comprehensive foreign affairs budget blueprint released earlier this year.
“Keeping people in Connecticut safe is my top priority in the Senate. The United States is unmatched in conventional military powers, but our adversaries are running circles around us when it comes to thinking outside the box and finding new, non-military means of shaping the world. We’ve got to step it up,” said Murphy. “Russia is out to get us, and they’re not shy about it. They’re influencing our domestic politics, threatening our allies in Europe and destabilizing the Middle East. I worked on these provisions to move the ball forward as I continue fighting to get the U.S. to rethink the battlefield and modernize our national security and foreign affairs approach. I’m glad my colleagues agreed.”