Senate gets deal on limiting Russia trade, oil import ban

The Senate struck a deal on a package to end normal trade relations with Russia and codify a Russian oil ban, with the chamber expected to pass the two bills on Thursday.

The deal, announced on Wednesday night, comes after senators told The Hill earlier that they believed they were closing in on an agreement after weeks of negotiations.

“We have reached an important and crucial breakthrough,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said. “These proposals both have the support of the White House, and it’s a big, big deal that we are finally getting them done.”

The Russia package includes two bills. One would codify the Biden administration’s oil ban. The second would end permanent normal trade relations with Russia and reauthorize Magnitsky Act sanctions that target human rights violations and corruption with penalties such as visa bans and asset freezes.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a lead negotiator, thanked Schumer on Wednesday for the weeks of negotiations, saying they had worked “carefully and long together, tireless days.”

“The legislation at issue is so important — it strikes directly at Putin and cuts off the lifeblood for his war machine and his autocracy,” Crapo said.

Both bills previously passed the House but ran into roadblocks in the Senate. Republicans blocked quick passage of the House-passed trade bill unless the oil ban bill also moved through the Senate.

Negotiators then ran into a days-long hurdle with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had issues with the House-passed language on reauthorizing the Magnitsky Act sanctions, which is riding on the trade legislation. The House bill changed the Magnitsky Act language from targeting “gross” human rights violations to targeting “serious” human rights violations, codifying a Trump-era executive order.

The deal, according to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a key negotiator, would keep the original Magnitsky Act language currently in law instead of updating it. As part of a deal with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate also passed legislation on Wednesday night to establish a land lease program for Ukraine, making it easier to send military aid to the country as it fights back against Russia’s weeks-long invasion.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), who introduced the bill to establish the lendlease program with Cornyn and other senators, said that it “couldn’t be more urgent” amid the “most serious security threat to Europe and our global stability since World War II.”

“I appreciate the bipartisan support to pass our legislation in the Senate and urge the House to swiftly follow suit. As this crisis rapidly escalates and Putin bears down on Ukraine, every minute counts,” she added.

Updated: 10:18 pm


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