Russia Trade Bill Set to Advance in U.S. Senate, But Passage by August Recess Uncertain

Wall Street Journal

A Senate panel appears headed to back Wednesday the lifting of trade restrictions on Russia, but the White House faces an uphill battle in its effort to win congressional approval before its long-time geopolitical rival joins the World Trade Organization as expected next month.

Several senators and private-sector supporters of legislation to approve permanent, normal trade relations with Russia said the bill is likely to clear its first major hurdle, by winning the backing of the Senate Finance Committee.

But a number of senators cast doubt on whether Congress can pass the bill before lawmakers leave town in early August for recess, raising the risk that U.S. companies will be put at a competitive disadvantage in trying to win Russian business. Rising tensions with Russia over Syria, Iran and human rights issues are complicating passage, with senators of both parties looking to attach measures to the trade bill to punish Russian human-rights violators.

“I’m very concerned about the human rights abuses and the bad behavior of Russia,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas.) Still, he and Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the minority whip, predicted the Finance Committee would approve the bill.

“I think things are fairly well resolved, that the (trade bill) would be accompanied by the Magnitsky legislation,” said Mr. Kyl. He was referring to a measure, named after a Russian lawyer who died in prison after accusing Russian government officials of fraud, that would freeze assets and deny visas to Russian human-rights abusers.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) hasn’t said whether he would allow a floor vote on the bill before the month-long August recess. An aide to Mr. Reid said later the majority leader would likely ultimately support the bill, but that he doubted the Senate would vote before the recess.

The House has shown even less urgency, despite a show of support for the bill last week from 73 Republican freshman lawmakers. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) is still trying to work with the White House to line up a Democratic sponsor for the bill, said spokeswoman Sarah Swinehart.

Mr. Camp and the White House share a preference for a clean trade bill, though that prospect is looking increasingly unlikely given increasing bipartisan support for the human-rights legislation.

Mr. Camp has said he is open to moving the Magnitsky bill in parallel, while White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the administration shares lawmakers’ concerns about human rights in Russia and is working with them on the most effective way to address the issue.

Christopher Wenk, senior director of international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, remains optimistic, saying bipartisan backing by the Senate Finance Committee could provide the necessary spark for quick passage.

“We in the business community and at the Chamber sense a real opportunity to get this done by the August recess,” he said.

Establishing permanent, normal trade relations with Russia requires the repeal of Jackson-Vanik–a 1974 measure that prevents the U.S. from granting most-favored-nation status to countries that restrict emigration.

Russian officials have said Jackson-Vanik must be lifted for the U.S. to receive the same benefits as other countries once it joins the WTO, and have threatened retaliation if any legislation imposes new human-rights measures in its place. hairy girls unshaven girl https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php займ срочно без отказов и проверок

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