The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia and its ally Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine — a move that could lead to further sanctions and higher tariffs on the two countries.
The Senate passed the measure unanimously, while the House approved it by a vote of 420-3 hours later.
A second bill banning the importation of Russian oil also the Senate 100-0 and cleared the House by a vote of 413-9. Both bills now go to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
“Ending normal trade relations hammers home that Putin has made Russia into a full-fledged pariah state,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The bill to suspend normal trade relations would allow the US government to place import controls on steel, platinum, aluminum, iron and steel. That could deliver a further devastating blow to Russia’s economy, which is already reeling from a series of sanctions imposed since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
The vote on the oil and natural gas import ban, which President Biden announced last month, would enshrine the embargo in US law.
The House initially voted 424-8 last month to strip Russia of its trade status.
But the bill stalled in the Senate during a debate over its language and Republicans’ insistence that they wouldn’t vote on the trade measure unless a vote on the oil legislation was guaranteed.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced the agreement allowing a vote on both bills late Wednesday.
“No nation whose military is committing war crimes deserves free trade status with the United States,” Schumer said.
Global condemnation has been mounting over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following reports that citizens were gunned down and their bodies left in the streets in the town of Bucha.
Mass graves were discovered containing hundreds of bodies when Russian troops pulled out of the Kyiv suburb.
Russia has also been accused of the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.
Other reports have indicated that Russian troops carried out rapes of Ukrainian girls as young as 10 and burned swastikas into the bodies of their victims.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the invasion a “special military operation” and said he has undertaken the operations to “denazify” Ukraine.
With Post wires