WASHINGTON — The Senate is expected to vote on legislation Thursday that would suspend normal trade relations between the U.S. and Russia, a move that President Joe Biden called for in March.
Lawmakers will also vote on a bill to codify a ban on oil imports from Russia, which follows the Biden administration’s implementation of those sanctions last month.
Negotiators had worked for several weeks on the measures, but some senators had delayed the process over objections to certain provisions. Those proposals included sanctions on Russian gold, a lend-lease agreement with Ukraine to provide the country with military aid and a broadening of sanctions of human rights abusers under the Magnitsky Act.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday on the Senate floor that “it’s a big, big deal that we are finally getting them done.”
“Putin must absolutely be held accountable for the detestable, despicable war crimes he is committing against Ukraine: the images we have seen coming out of that country, especially out of the town of Bucha, are just pure evil,” he said.
Schumer continued, “Hundreds of civilians murdered in cold blood. Men, women, children, the elderly, the defenseless; people with hands tied behind their backs and left dead on the streets; civilians shot in the back of the head; all for one reason: They’re Ukrainians.”
“This is genocide,” he added.
The majority leader said revoking trade relations with Russia will be “another huge blow to Putin’s economy.” The House already passed a version of the bill last month and will have to vote on the Senate-passed legislation before it goes to Biden’s desk.
Suspending trade relations would end Russia’s status as a “most favored nation,” a World Trade Organization designation imposed by members that treats trading partners equally with regard to tariffs. In the U.S., that status is known as permanent normal trade relations, and removing the designation paves the way to increase tariffs on imports from Russia.
The Senate bill to ban energy imports would codify the executive action Biden took in March to block Russian oil, liquified natural gas and coal from entering the U.S.