President Joe Biden has signed a measure into law to end normal trade relations with Russia and signed a separate measure to codify the United States’ ban on Russian oil imports, marking the latest major U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The signing of H.R. 7108, the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act, suspends normal trade relations with the two countries and “seeks to further leverage trade and human rights sanctions,” according to the White House.
The move means Biden can place higher tariffs on Russian imports, such as certain steel and aluminum products, putting further pressure on the Russian economy.
Russia’s economy has already been heavily impacted by sanctions from multiple countries in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The United States alone has issued sanctions on multiple Russian individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, as well as major Russian banks and other state-owned enterprises.
To revoke normal trade relations with any nation requires an act of Congress. The measure passed the Senate 100–0, and the House 420–3. Three Republicans voted against the measure: Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).
The bill spent much time in the Senate amid discussions on final details and language. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in late March had objected to the bill and prevented it from being approved. He had opposed language over sanctions for global human-rights abusers, saying it was too broad and prone to being abused; he argued it would have in effect expanded the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2016 human rights sanctions measure. Eight other Republicans in the House had voiced similar concerns.
The other bill, H.R. 6968, is also referred to as the “Ending Importation of Russian Oil Act.” It passed the Senate 100–0, and the House 413–9. Biden had announced a ban on Russian oil imports in March and signed an executive order doing so, but the bill passed by Congress codifies it into law.