House passes bill to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus

The House passed legislation Thursday that would suspend normal trade relations with Russia, a move designed to further isolate Moscow’s economy in response to President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The measure passed 424-8, with all opposition coming from Republicans.

The bill would revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” status in the World Trade Organization and pave the way for President Joe Biden to introduce higher tariffs on Russian goods such as steel, aluminum and plywood. It’s the latest in a series of punitive actions in coordination with the E.U. and Group of Seven industrial nations after Russia invaded Ukraine last month.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., praised passage of the legislation, which would also affect Russian ally Belarus.

“As Russia continues its horrific, unprovoked war on the Ukrainian people, the House is moving to inflict even greater economic pain on Russia and Belarus,” he said in a statement.

Opposition to the bipartisan bill came from GOP Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Chip Roy of Texas.

The vote came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a virtual address to Congress, calling on lawmakers to do more to help thwart Putin’s invasion.

“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy,” Zelenskyy said from Kyiv.

The Biden administration has imposed a series of punitive measures to block Russian oil and gas imports, among other goods, in coordination with the European Union. But Zelenskyy has said he needs allies to take military steps to protect Ukraine, such as imposing a no-fly zone over parts of the country and providing fighter jets.

Biden is expected to sign the trade suspension measure into law when it reaches his desk. The House-passed bill now heads to the Senate.

Earlier on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the upper chamber would quickly take up the bill.

“Both parties — Democrat and Republican — remain united in sending Putin a clear message: his inhumane violence against the Ukrainian people will come at a steep price,” he said from the Senate floor. “I will work with my colleagues to move it through this chamber quickly.”

Source: Read Full Article