WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers are considering introducing legislation calling for additional sanctions on Russia in the wake of the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner, Senator Chris Murphy said in a telephone interview on Friday.
Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, said he planned to reach out to key senators during the weekend "to talk about essential new sanctions legislation."
Murphy said Obama already has the authority to move forward on sanctions but if he were to decide to take more aggressive action, it would be useful to have lawmakers' backing.
"If he (Obama) is going to act in a more aggressive fashion, it would probably be worthwhile to have congressional intent, through a resolution or through legislation, to show like minds and like purpose," he said.
However, echoing many other U.S. legislators, Murphy said it would be especially useful if European nations would join in any more assertive U.S. sanctions push. The European Union has been more reluctant than Washington to impose wider economic sanctions in response to Moscow's action in Ukraine, partly because of its close economic ties to Russia.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott)