The Senate violates the ban on measures in Ukraine, sends bills to the House of Representatives

On Thursday, the parliament cleared up a month-long quarrel between party members over how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sent two bills aimed at punishing Russia and aiding Ukraine President Biden for his signature.

The direct impact of the bills on the course of the conflict is likely to be negligible. They largely bolster Biden’s actions already taken to ban energy imports and remove trade benefits from Russia. But the bills represent a remarkable gesture that indicates the continued interest of two parties in supporting Ukraine’s efforts to maintain its independence amid the deadly aggression of its larger neighbors.

Although the parliament has provided nearly $ 14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as part of a recent bill on government spending, it has not passed any independent legislation on the conflict. Efforts to draft a pre-invasion sanctions bill that disintegrated deterrence and post-invasion legislation have not been much easier.

Thursday’s vote also comes as new evidence of possible war crimes emerged this week from areas around Kyiv following Russia’s withdrawal from the region – which put new pressure on the United States and other Western nations to establish an even stronger response to Russian President Vladimir Putin. .

When the conflict in Ukraine erupts, the parliament is struggling to legislate on the response

“Civilians are slaughtered with their hands tied behind their backs. Corpses bear clear signs of torture. The body was cremated to cover up rape evidence, “said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Who oversees business affairs as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in a statement. “This package is about putting all the economic pressure on Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs. “Putin’s Russia does not deserve to be part of the economic system that has existed since the end of World War II.”

The business bill, which adopted the Senate 100-0 and the House 420-3, removing Russia and its ally Belarus from the long list of countries that enjoy “permanent normal trade relations” and adding a much smaller list of countries that do not., which now consists of Cuba and North Korea. The nomination, which Biden has already made by executive order, means that Russia’s imports – which amounted to about 30 billion US dollars in 2022 – will be subject to higher tariffs.

“We are not taking these steps lightly, but Russian aggression requires this approach,” said Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “Russia will no longer enjoy the same uniqueness with America as the country it is invading.

The bill also calls on US officials to demand Russia’s expulsion from the World Trade Organization and re – authorize human rights sanctions that have been used against members of Putin’s inner circle. The latter provision contributed to Senate delays after some Conservatives, including Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Protested against a change in sanctions – from “gross” human rights violations to mere “serious” violations. .

Video reporter Joyce Koh visited the town of Borodyanka in Ukraine, where buildings have been left alone after the Russian occupation. (Video: Joyce Koh, Casey Silvestri / The Washington Post, Photo: The Washington Post)

Some conservative groups have argued that the change could open the door for the future president to punish right-wing officials abroad, such as banning legal abortions. The bilateral sponsors of the measure rejected the proposal but agree to maintain the current standard this week to speed up the passage of the bill.

Another bill, passed by the Senate 100-0 and House 413-9, confirms the already announced ban on Russian energy imports, including shipments of oil products, which accounted for a third of all trade between the United States and Russia last year. .

The third bill, which was approved unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday night, would allow the Pentagon to streamline its arms dealings with Ukraine in a way that senators are comparing to the “loan lease” campaign undertaken by the United States during World War II. II. It is unclear when the parliament could take action on the bill.

Biden, European allies plan to deprive Russia of trade status

“This is one important way we can send a message to our friends and allies around the world that you are not alone, that America can be trusted, that our commitments are credible and that they will be met not just in words but in deeds.” Said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Sponsor of the loan rental bill.

Russia and Ukraine’s bills were approved on the last trading day of the parliament before a two-week break. They continued while another Democratic priority in the legislature – a new phase of funding for coronary heart disease – remained entrenched in party politics.

While bipartisan negotiators reached a $ 10 billion deal earlier this week, Republicans called for a change banning the Biden government from lifting a pandemic policy called Title 42 that has effectively halted normal asylum at the southern border.

The moratorium has angered Democrats, who have warned of declining stockpiles of vaccines and medicines in the United States as the BA.2 coronary virus subgenus threatens to increase the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. But with the funding in the air, party leaders were happy to make progress in another vital issue before the long break.

“No nation in which the military is committing war crimes deserves a free trade position with the United States,” said Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.), the leader of the majority of the Senate. “No disgusting thug like Putin deserves to stand on equal footing with the leaders of the free world. He is a threat and a pariah who has ensured that his place in history will be an eternal shame. “

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