The US Congress decisively voted on Thursday to suspend regular commercial relations with Russia and prohibit the importation of Russian oil, ratcheting up the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid claims of Russian soldiers’ crimes.
The bills will now be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Following the Senate’s overwhelming 100-0 vote of the two bills on Thursday, the House of Representatives moved rapidly to act.
The substance of the two legislation was overwhelmingly approved by legislators.
The House voted 420 to 3 in favor of the trade bill, and 413 to 9 in favor of the energy bill.
Biden had previously taken executive action to prohibit Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal from entering the US, and had called on Congress to terminate Russia’s preferential trading status in March.
The president wants to sign the bill, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
The legislative decision comes after the US and its allies announced fresh sanctions against Russia.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration unveiled a fresh set of targeted sanctions on Russia, including a ban on any direct US investments in the country and sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s family and other key Russian officials.
Blocking sanctions were also placed on Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private bank, by the United States, the Group of Seven industrial nations, and the European Union.
President Joe Biden’s plan to terminate normal trade ties with Russia lays the way for US to slap heavier tariffs on Russian aluminium and steel, further damaging the country’s economy under Putin.
Belarus, a Russian ally, is likewise subjected to unfavorable tariff treatment.
According to Democratic House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Richard Neal, “we in Congress must do all we can to end the slaughter of innocent civilians, total destruction of cities, and assault on democracy in Ukraine.”
Neal stated, “Ways and Means Committee members are united in our commitment to confront these atrocities and hold the Putin regime responsible for its campaign of terror against the Ukrainian people.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, declared a breakthrough in secret Senate discussions to put the bills up for votes before Congress leaves town for two weeks.
Failure to act on the trade proposals now, according to some legislators, would send the wrong message to friends and Russia.
As the battle in Ukraine grinds on, the pictures pouring out of the country “are pure evil.” Hundreds of citizens were massacred in cold blood, according to Schumer.
Schumer declared just before the Senate voted, “no nation whose military is committing war crimes deserves free-trade status with the United States.”
Senator Ron Wyden, head of the Senate Finance Committee, stated that, “this package is about bringing every tool of economic pressure to bear on Vladimir Putin and his oligarch cronies.” “Putin’s Russia does not deserve to be a part of the economic order that has existed since the end of World War II.”
The bills provide the president the ability to restore regular tariff treatment for Russia and abolish the prohibition on Russian energy goods, subject to specific criteria imposed by Congress.
This is important for the White House.
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According to White House officials, sanctions imposed by the US and more than 30 other countries have already harmed Russia’s economy.
Moreover, experts anticipate that Russia’s economy would decline by up to 15% this year, with inflation exceeding 15%.
According to a White House fact sheet, more than 600 private-sector enterprises have already exited the market.
“Russia will very likely lose its status as a major economy, and it will continue a long descent into economic, financial, and technological isolation,” according to the White House.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES