U.S. House Passes Bill to End Normal Trade Relations with Russia, Belarus

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on March 17 to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and its ally Belarus until 2024 due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The House approved the Suspending Normal Trade relations with Russia and Belarus Act with a vote of 424-8 with strong bipartisan support.

The bill would give U.S. President Joe Biden the authority to increase tariffs on Russia and Belarus until Jan. 1, 2024.

The bill would also give Biden the authority to restore normal trade relations with the two countries if they stop the war in Ukraine and meet other conditions. However, Congress can overrule such a decision.

The legislation also directs the U.S. Trade Representative to pressure other nations to suspend Russia’s participation at the World Trade Organization and block Belarus from becoming a full member.

“The suspension of normal trade relations is an essential part of our effort to restore peace, save lives, and defend democracy,”  U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, who introduced the bill, said in a joint statement.

The bill will now head to the Senate.

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer said on March 17 at the Senate floor that he would work quickly to take up the trade legislation and send it to Biden’s desk.

“Both parties remain united in sending Putin a clear message: His inhumane violence against the Ukrainian people will come at a crippling price and today’s step by the House is another way we’re making that come true,” Schumer said.

The House approval of the bill came one day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a virtual address to the U.S. Congress and appealed for increased U.S. assistance amid the Russian invasion.

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