House Passes Bill to Suspend Trade Relations With Russia as 8 Republicans Defect

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to suspend trade relations with Russia and Belarus, Politico reports.

The House voted 424-8, with only Republicans in opposition, to allow President Joe Biden to increase tariffs on Russia and Belarus until 2024.

The legislation also instructs the U.S. trade representative to pressure other countries to take similar measures. The bill also directs the trade representative to work to suspend Russia from the World Trade Organization and prevent Belarus from becoming a full member of the WTO.

Both parties overwhelmingly backed the proposal.

The bill “gives the president the ability to work with the free and independent government of Ukraine in assessing Russia’s behavior,” said Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, “but it also retains Congress’ ability, through a disapproval resolution, to address the issue if needed.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “showed us the absolute horrors that Russia is inflicting on the Ukrainian people in full view of the world,” said Massachusetts Democrat Richie Neal. “And he pleaded for us to do more. With the legislation that stands before us at this hour, we intend to answer his call.”

8 Republicans oppose:

Eight Republicans, including right-wingers like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Lauren Boebert, voted against the legislation.

"We need to focus on our country first. We’re seeing rapidly rising inflation. It’s completely out of control,” Taylor Greene said. “All we’re hearing on the news is Ukraine, but yet here in America what real Americans care about is gas prices they can’t afford, inflation that goes up and up to where grocery bills are unaffordable, and they’re very concerned about our out-of-control open border. Crime is out of control, but yet Washington is completely disconnected.”

"Congress keeps focusing on distractions abroad and not our own challenges brought on by Joe Biden at home. H.R. 1708 had bad language that could lead to sanctioning ‘human rights abusers’ who simply hold traditional views of life and family and restrict access to abortion,” said Boebert. “The bill also does nothing to spur domestic energy production.”

Senate questions:

The bill now heads to the Senate but it’s unclear whether the bill will be paired with a Republican-backed bill to ban Russian energy imports, which Biden already did.

The House last week approved a Russian energy ban but has not sent the bill to the Senate. The White House expressed concerns about the scope of the bill but Democrats say Biden is now on board.

“What I’m understanding is they may not put their two bills together, but will instead send us one of them, which does not include the ban on Russian oil,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, the lead Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday. “And that we will then amend it to put that ban in. And so there’s still going to need to be some action in the Senate.”


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