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Congress set to pass two bills targeting Russia

The Senate unanimously passed two bills on Thursday, the first to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, punishing the countries for invading Ukraine by paving the way for higher tariffs on imports from them. Biden called for the move in March, and the House overwhelmingly passed his bill a week later. The Senate bill now goes to the House for final passage.

The Senate then unanimously passed a bill to ban energy imports from Russia, including oil, coal and natural gas.

The Senate had been mired for weeks over Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s objections to proposed changes to the Magnitsky Act, fearing the new language would give the executive too much power to prosecute those accused of human rights abuses. ‘man.

The Senate eventually gave in to Paul’s demands, retaining the more narrowly defined status regarding human rights abuses, but made the language permanent despite the wishes of some Republicans.

The trade relations bill is the latest congressional effort to crack down on Russia and help Ukraine. Last night, the Senate passed a bill to provide military aid to Ukraine more quickly.

Once the Senate approves the two Russia bills, the House is expected to pass the measures Thursday and send them to President Joe Biden’s office for signing, according to the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

While the House has already overwhelmingly approved both bills, the Senate spent weeks negotiating and made some changes, requiring final House approval.

The congressional decisions come a day after the administration announced sanctions against Russia’s biggest financial institutions and the number of individuals linked to the Kremlin, including the two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while he seeks to increase economic pressure on Russia and Putin himself following gruesome images. from the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

The United States also announced sanctions against the wife and daughter of Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The UK then announced its own sanctions, and the European Union was also expected to follow suit, increasing Western pressure on Moscow as the war enters its second month.

This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.

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