The Senate on Thursday unanimously voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, sending the legislation to President Biden’s desk. It also voted to ban all oil imports and energy products from Russia, in an effort to further cripple Russia’s economy and hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for his war on Ukraine.
Both votes were 100-0 — an unusual show of complete bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.
The House overwhelmingly approved its versions of both bills last month. The suspension of normal trade relations will make it easier for the president to impose tariffs on Russia, further weakening its economy.
Mr. Biden urged Congress to suspend normal trade relations with Russia last month, issuing an executive order to ban imports of Russian oil, liquified natural gas and coal. Belarus has been aiding Moscow in its unprompted war against Ukraine.
“Putin must absolutely be held accountable for the detestable, despicable war crimes he is committing against Ukraine: the images we have seen coming out of that country, especially out of the town of Bucha, are just pure evil,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers Wednesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have “enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond,” as people around the world experience rising prices on things like food, energy and gas. Yellen acknowledged sanctions on Russia are driving up the price of energy.
“We think it’s a price important to pay to punish Russia for what it’s doing in Ukraine, but energy prices are going up,” Yellen told lawmakers Wednesday. “The price of wheat and corn that Russia and Ukraine produce are going up and metals that play an important industrial role – nickel, titanium, palladium – that goes into catalytic converters – the costs of those things are going up.”