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Rand Paul and Mike Lee were the only two senators to vote against Russia sanctions Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talks with U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (L) in between television interviews in the Russell Senate Office Building rotunda on Capitol Hill June 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. In protest of the National Security Agency's sweeping program to collect U.S. citizens' telephone metadata, Paul blocked an extension of some parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, allowing them to lapse at 12:01 a.m. Monday. The Senate will continue to work to restore the lapsed authorities by amending a House version of the bill and getting it to President Obama later this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to move forward with new sanctions on Russia for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election.

The vote was 97-2. The two “no” senators were Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

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Paul explained his opposition to these sanctions during an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. “I’m really not in favor of new sanctions against Russia now or new sanctions on Iran,” Paul said.

“Everything we say Russia’s done wrong? So China does,” Paul added citing different examples of the latter country engaging in espionage in addition to China’s human rights abuses.

Paul said he didn’t see the point of “tweaking their nose,” referring to Russia and said improving U.S. security should be a priority.

“Everybody in the world who can spy, spies,” Paul added.

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Besides financial penalties, the new sanctions would also target those involved in “malicious cyber activity,” those who give weapons to Assad’s government and operatives who work with Russian intelligence.

Sen. Lee has not made a statement on his opposition but is known as one of the few Republicans along with Paul willing to buck the majority and even his own party on foreign policy issues.

Lee and Paul were also two of only four Republicans to oppose the Saudi Arms deal on Tuesday.

Disclosure: I co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.

Jack Hunter About the author:
Jack Hunter is the Editor of Rare Politics. Follow him on Twitter @jackhunter74.
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