GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In an effort to further isolate Russia, the House and Senate fast-tracked two bills aimed at stopping Russian trade with the U.S.
“Putin must absolutely be held accountable,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday.
In a rare display of bipartisanship, the entire Senate and all but three House Republicans voted to permanently end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus.
On the House floor, Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Richard Neal and Texas Republican congressman Kevin Brady said both bills will help ensure American dollars do not fuel Russia’s violence in Ukraine.
“To send the message to a dictator in Russia who is killing innocent women and children in the streets of Ukraine,” said Rep. Neal.
“It is time to act now,” said Rep. Brady.
“We know it will not immediately stop the funding of the Putin war machine, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.
The removal of Russia’s special trade status puts Russia in the same category as North Korea and allows the U.S. to drastically increase tariffs on Russian imports.
“This is another symbol of slowly tightening the noose on Russia,” said Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
Although he says he wishes congress acted sooner. The house originally passed both bills last month, but Rep. Blumenauer said, “this is past due.”
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley says while Congress starts a two-week recess, he hopes the administration takes further steps to help Ukraine.
“I do think Congress has been pushing the administration and we’re going to have to keep doing it. At this point, we’ve given them billions of dollars in military aid. It’s up to the administration to actually now give it to the Ukrainians.”
The House and Senate also passed a bill to make a ban on Russian oil imports official.
Today, the White House confirmed the President will sign both bills.