The Russia Trade Pile-Up

Wall Street Journal

So how can legislation supported by business groups, democracy activists, Senate Democrats, House Republicans and the Obama Administration be in danger of failing? Answer: Only in Washington.

That’s where things stand with a bill to normalize trade with Russia that includes a provision to sanction gross abusers of human rights. Early last week all looked good. Montana Democrat Max Baucus and Arizona Republican Jon Kyl crafted a compromise in the Senate Finance Committee that’s ready for a floor vote. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and ranking Democrat Sander Levin knocked together a House version in a few hours.

Then on Monday every House Member received a letter from the United Steelworkers and the Communication Workers of America. The unions called the bill “woefully deficient” in enforcing Russian compliance with World Trade Organization rules. This is false, since Russia will join the WTO on August 22 no matter what, and failure to adopt “permanent normal trade relations” would only hurt U.S. companies in Russia. Yet Democratic support notably softened.

Meanwhile, the Administration has been missing in action. President Obama hasn’t pressed Members, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t lobbying the Hill. We’re told that when he met with House Democrats on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stressed taxes but not this ostensibly high trade priority.

White House enthusiasm has ebbed since the Senate overrode its objections and added the Magnitsky Act, which bans Russian rights abusers from visiting or banking in the U.S. Mr. Obama also may not want to push a bill disliked by unions and that some criticize unfairly as rewarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bad behavior. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t committed to a floor vote before the August recess.

If Democratic leaders won’t lead, then some Republicans ask why they should. After the Ways and Means voice vote, Speaker John Boehner scotched quick House floor action. “If the president really thinks this is an important issue that we have to deal with, then maybe he ought to be out there making the case for it,” he said. “I haven’t seen that as yet.”

The Speaker wants to devote this week to the House effort to stop a January 1 tax increase, but a quick trade vote wouldn’t distract from that political theater. This bill would have an immediate and positive economic and foreign policy impact, and House passage would put Senator Reid on the spot to allow a vote. Unless an adult turns up soon, the bill will be pushed into the autumn, when it could get lost amid other pre-election priorities.

This is what happens in a Washington with a President who is focused solely on re-election and has forfeited trust on Capitol Hill. The only winner from failure would be the Putin regime, which desperately wants to see Magnitsky die and won’t mind that American business suffers in the bargain. payday loan займ на карту без отказов круглосуточно https://zp-pdl.com/fast-and-easy-payday-loans-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php hairy girl

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