Legislation proposed by Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Maryland's Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen gained eight new cosponsors on Thursday, the same day senators and the White House clashed over how to handle Russia and US relations.
The legislation was originally proposed in January but gained new prominence after President Donald Trump's one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland on Monday -- and after the White House temporarily entertained the idea of sending US officials to be interrogated by Russians in exchange for Russian cooperation with the investigation into its interference in the 2016 US election.
The legislation, called the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines -- or DETER -- Act, would require the director of national intelligence to declare whether a foreign government had interfered in a federal election within a month after the election.
Specifically for Russia, if the DNI determines the Kremlin interfered in a federal election, the bill requires sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, defense, and metals and mining.
The cosponsors signed on Wednesday, a Democratic aide said.
Rubio and Van Hollen asked the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations committees in a letter to hold hearings on the legislation and mark up the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also asked for the committees to take up the bill.
Their letter came the same day the Senate overwhelmingly approved a proposal to oppose sending US officials to be interrogated by Russians, though it's unclear what if any concrete legislative options Republican leaders in Congress would pursue beyond statements and nonbinding resolutions.
The 98-0 vote came after the White House announced it now disagreed with the proposal from Putin to question former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others, which the White House had said up until Thursday afternoon that it was considering.