Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a possible 2020 presidential contender, told The Daily Beast that the new designations were “a good sign and a good step in the right direction.”
The overall effort caught many lawmakers by surprise, after months of accusing the administration of stonewalling them over similar sanctions that the White House opposed from the start.
That’s because, despite its stated goal to rebuild U.S.-Russia relations, the administration last week sanctioned five Russian and Chechen individuals under the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that punishes alleged human rights abusers by freezing their assets and banning them from seeking visas. The sanctions targeted Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, over allegations of corruption and extrajudicial killings. The move drew a rebuke from the Kremlin, which called the U.S.’ actions “illegal” and “unfriendly” and said it further degrades the strained U.S.-Russia relationship.