House votes to suspend normal trade relations with Russia

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House votes to suspend normal trade relations with Russia

WASHINGTON – The House voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to strip Russia of its preferential trade status with the United States, in a move to further punish the country’s economy in response to Ukraine’s invasion.

President Biden announced last week that the United States and its European allies would take new steps to isolate Russia from the global trading system. All lawmakers opposing the measure were Republicans.

The bill, which would allow the United States to impose higher tariffs on Russian goods, is the latest in a series of measures lawmakers have approved to support Ukraine and punish Russia for its aggression. Others include sanctions on Russian oil and gas products and a $13.6 billion military and humanitarian aid package.

The trade measure still requires Senate approval. Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and majority leader, said he would work to move it through the chamber quickly.

The House vote came a day after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a speech to Congress via video link, urging lawmakers to do more to help their country and punish Russia. His address, as well as a horrifying video shown of Russia’s genocide in Ukraine, hung on the floor of the House on Thursday as lawmakers debated the trade bill.

Representative Richard E., a Democrat from Massachusetts and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “Mr. Zelensky showed us the utter horror that Russia is attacking the Ukrainian people in its full view of the world,” Neil said. “And he begged us to do more. We want to respond to their call with the law that is before us at the moment.”

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Top lawmakers in the House proposed nearly a month ago to strip Russia of its trading status and start the process of pulling the country out of the World Trade Organization. But last week, as the House worked to push legislation together with a measure to ban imports of Russian oil and gas products, Democrats removed the trade provision at the request of the Biden administration, which provided with European Asked for more time. Ally about this step.

“Guys, I know I’ve let you down sometimes,” Biden told House Democrats at his retreat in Philadelphia last week. “But more important than our going forward when we want to is to make sure that all NATO is together – together. They have different vulnerabilities than ours.”

The move by the United States to strip Russia of its preferential trade status – known as “permanent normal trade relations” – carries symbolic weight, but trade experts have said pales in comparison to other sanctions already imposed. This will have limited economic impact.

In recognition of its role in aiding Russia’s attack on Ukraine, legislation passed by the House would isolate Belarus from the global trading system.

The stripping of Russia from its trading position would be the latest in a growing list of economic penalties imposed on the country, whose economy is facing collapse.

The debate in Congress over how best to respond to Russia’s attack on Ukraine has turned increasingly acrimonious, as Republicans have moved to characterize the attack as one of Mr Biden’s shortcomings. Some of that sentiment joined the debate on the trade measure on Thursday, such as when Republican Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina criticized the Biden administration for “presenting weakness to Putin and his allies.”

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Texas Representative Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, praised the way the two sides worked together to push for a ban on Russian energy products and a trade measure. He then criticized Biden for failing to approve new gas drilling licenses at home.

For the most part, however, lawmakers trained their anger on Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Speaking on the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of committing war crimes against civilians and children, echoing comments made this week by Mr Biden.

“What Putin is doing in Ukraine – bombing civilians, targeting children – is beyond the scope of civilized human behavior,” Ms Pelosi said. “He is committing a war crime and must be held accountable.”

Anna Swanson Contributed to reporting.

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