Legislation marks Washington’s latest effort to ‘defend democracy’ by punishing Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shown speaking to reporters last November in Washington. © Getty Images / Drew Angerer
The US House has passed a bill to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, opening the door to new tariffs as the latest punishment of Moscow over its military offensive in Ukraine.
The legislation passed the House on Thursday with just eight lawmakers, all Republicans, voting against it. It will next head to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has said he plans to get it passed and on the president’s desk for final approval as soon as possible.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), who introduced the bill, said he aims to inflict “even greater economic pain on the Russian regime and its enablers” after last week’s vote in Congress to approve a ban on imports of Russian oil. “We must do all we can to hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin accountable for senselessly attacking the Ukrainian people and undermining global stability,” he said.
The suspension of normal trade relations is an essential part of our effort to restore peace, save lives and defend democracy.
The bill would give President Joe Biden authority to impose new tariffs on imports from Russia and Belarus until January 2024. It also calls for requiring the Biden administration to push for Russia’s removal from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and try to block Belarus’ accession to the WTO. The legislation would allow Biden to restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus if they meet certain conditions, including ceasing “acts of aggression” against Ukraine.