PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is calling on Congress to enact legislation that would repeal permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
The senator addressed lawmakers Wednesday, pushing for immediate action and explaining why this repeal is necessary.
“Vladimir Putin’s inhumane conduct means that Russia has forfeited the right to the benefits of the international trade order that was established after World War II,” he said. “What the Senate can do by passing the House bill today would amount to the harshest economic consequences in a generation.”
The House bill Wyden spoke about is H.R. 7108, the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act. It was introduced by House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas. As the name suggests, the bill would suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. It also permanently authorizes the U.S. president to impose visa- and property-blocking sanctions based on violations of human rights.
The bill also authorizes the president to increase duty rates to Russian or Belarus products through Jan. 1, 2024. The bill directs the U.S. Trade Representative to consider steps to suspend Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organization and seek to stop the accession process of Belarus. It authorizes broader coverage of current visa- and property-blocking sanctions for human rights violations to cover people involved in serious human rights abuses.
It would allow the president to impose sanctions on any foreign person who is responsible for serious human rights abuse, is a current or former government official who is responsible for or complicit in corruption, is or has been a leader or official in an entity engaged in human rights abuse or corruption, or has supported any of these activities.
“These tariffs would directly, directly level a significant, significant set of restrictions on Putin’s circle of oligarchs, who export everything from chemicals to plywood,” Wyden said.
The bipartisan bill passed the House on March 17 and is now being discussed in the Senate.
Wyden said if the Senate passes the bill, it would immediately trigger a significant increase in tariffs on Russian-made products and would allow for the president to raise tariffs even higher in the future.
He said this is an “absolutely essential step in ensuring that Russia is a pariah state.”
Wyden was hopeful the Senate would pass the bill Wednesday and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk by the end of the day.