U.S. Senator Delays Congress Push To End Russian Trade Status

(PresidentialInsider.com)- Republican Senator Mike Crapo stood in the way of the Senate voting on a House-passed bill to end normal trade relations with Russia last week.

After the House passed the measure 424 to 8, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to get it quickly passed in the Senate, claiming it would be a symbolic show of unity just as President Biden traveled to Europe.

But Senator Crapo, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, blocked Schumer’s planned vote because the measure did not include an oil ban.

Under Senate rules, any senator can try to quickly schedule a vote, but to do so requires all 100 senators to agree. In short, it only takes one senator to block a fast-tracked vote request.

The House bill raises tariffs on goods from both Russia and Belarus and imposes strict guidelines for when the president can restore normal trade relations. The measure would also reauthorize and expand the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Its inclusion in the bill caused some complaints in the House.

Earlier this month, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and Senator Crapo, along with Congressmen Richard Neal (D-MA) and Kevin Brady (R-TX), said they reached an agreement on moving legislation forward that would ban the import of Russian oil, end normal trade relations with Russia, and apply new sanctions.

However, the House separated the measures, passing one bill banning the import of oil and a separate bill ending trade relations with Russia and Belarus. While Schumer attempted a quick vote on the latter, no fast-tracked vote on the oil ban was requested.

Senator Crapo tried to offer a substitute amendment, but Maryland Senator Ben Cardin objected because it didn’t include Magnitsky.

Eventually, the senators agreed to hold a vote on the oil ban this week which appeared to solve the problem. The fast-tracked vote on ending trade relations was scheduled for last Thursday. But this time, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was the single senator blocking the fast-tracked vote, citing the inclusion of the reauthorization and expansion of Magnitsky.

The vote may be held sometime this week.