US-Russia Relations Hit New Low

The US House of Representatives revoked normal trade relations with Russia and its ally Belarus until 2024 by passing a much-needed bill.

However, the bill has still to be passed by the Senate and signed by Biden before it turns into a law. 

America to Suspend Trade Relations with Russia

As the bill is passed in a bipartisan manner with only eight votes against it, it is likely to have a smooth ride in the Senate as well.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, stated the chamber would quickly take up the resolution and send it to Biden’s desk as early as possible.

The only thing that can delay the whole process is whether this legislation will be tied up with other bills banning Russian oil imports to the United States.

When the House passed the legislation to ban Russian oil imports last week, it was applauded by both sides of the aisle.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to send that legislation to the Senate, as it is still a “work in progress,” according to Pelosi.

Congressional Republicans want both the trade and oil bills moved together to the Senate, as banning Russian oil is their primary demand.

Otherwise, the GOP can make amendments to the trade bill and send it back to the House, causing further delays.

Russian Aggression Killed an American in Ukraine

This came at a time when Russian aggression against Ukraine started targeting Americans in the war-torn country.

Initially, an American basketball player was detained by Russia; her detention is now extended to May 19.

Likewise, Russian forces killed an American journalist, Fox News cameraman, and a local freelance consultant for the conservative news channel. 

Now, Russian forces have even killed an American civilian in Ukraine, thus straining the relations between the two countries.

Apart from that, the newly passed bill is supposed to direct the US Trade Representative to push other nations to cancel any trade privilege for Russia and Belarus. 

It will also discourage Russia from participating in the World Trade Organization and block Belarus’ bid to join the same organization.

However, if Russia and Belarus cease the war, Biden would be able to restore trade relations with Russia, as per the bill. However, Congress can still overrule the presidential decision using disapproval resolution.

Biden already announced he would revoke the status of “most favored nation” given to Russia. Even though the latest bill may get passed from Congress, it could be delayed on Biden’s desk as well.

Reportedly, the White House wants to do detailed discussions with its regional and global allies to analyze the possible consequences of the measure before taking any crucial decision.

The major disagreement between Congress and the president was the extent of the authority that should be given to the White House in order to reinstate trade with Russia. 

However, this disagreement was largely resolved as suggested by Rep. Kevin Brady of the Republican Party.

According to him, the president would have the authority to work with the independent government of Ukraine to assess Russia’s behavior. 

Still, the bill empowers Congress to oversee the executive branch using disapproval resolution.