Congress Votes to End Normal Trade Relations, Oil Imports With Russia

By Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.
April 7, 2022 Updated: April 8, 2022

Congress on Thursday voted to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and to bar Russian oil imports into the United States in response to the nations’ invasion of Ukraine.

The Senate on Thursday morning passed the bill to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus in a 100–0 vote, a rare event in increasingly divided Washington. The bill to ban Russian imports of oil also was approved in a 100–0 vote.

The House later in the day passed the bill by an overwhelming majority, with 420 voting in favor of suspending normal trade relations and only 3 opposing the bill. The Russian oil ban passed the House by slimmer margins, with 413 supporting the bill and 9 opposing it.

“It’s a big, big deal that we are finally getting them done,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday after he announced the legislation. “Now, I wish this could have happened sooner, but after weeks of talks with the other side, it’s important that we have found a path forward.”

The measures have already won the support of President Joe Biden, who has long called for Congress to take up such legislation. In March, Biden announced an oil ban, which is now codified by the support of the Senate.

In an address at the beginning of March, Biden said he will sign bipartisan legislation that will revoke Russia’s permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status with the United States, making it more difficult for Russia to do business with the West.

Biden said the move to end normal trade relations with Russia was done in coordination with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin must pay the price,” Biden said. “He cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundations of international peace and stability, and then ask for financial help from the international community.”

Biden also said the United States is banning Russian imports of goods such as seafood, vodka, and diamonds. It’s also banning the export of luxury goods into Russia and increasing the list of Russian individuals to be sanctioned.

Efforts to ban the importation of Russian oil began on March 3, when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in pushing for a bill that would do just that.

However, as a corollary proposal to his bill Manchin demanded an end to Biden administration policies that have limited the extraction of oil in the United States, particularly oil on federal lands.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said on several occasions that she supports a Russian oil ban, but she has rejected efforts by Manchin and GOP lawmakers to loosen restrictions on U.S. drilling, saying that Democrats would not abandon their policies to “save the planet.”

The Russian oil ban comes as U.S. consumers face already rapidly-rising prices, and some have expressed concerns that the ban may further raise prices by further restricting the readily-available supply of oil.

Since U.S. and western sanctions on the Eastern European superpower began, the value of the Russian ruble has dropped significantly. The Senate’s unanimous decision on Thursday will further increase strain on the Russian economy as its advance into Ukraine has proceeded slower than Russian leaders hoped.

Russia has not reacted yet to the move.

Nick Ciolino contributed to this report. 

This story has been updated to include the House voting results. 

Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.