Senate passes Russia trade bill

Dec. 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate approved a measure that would grant Russia permanent normal trade relations status on a 92-4 vote.

"We have to take very difficult votes in this chamber, but this is not one of them," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said before the vote Thursday. "[Permanent normal trade relations] is good for United States jobs ... and this is strong human rights legislation."

The same bill passed the House in November with wide bipartisan support on a 365-43 vote, The Hill reported. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., introduced the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, necessary for U.S. businesses to benefit from lower tariffs after Russia joined the World Trade Organization during the summer.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a one-time U.S. trade representative, said he backed the measure because it would help generate new jobs in U.S. manufacturing and farming industries.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said he had hoped to include human rights language that would have imposed sanctions on alleged human rights violators worldwide, but the House-passed version included sanctions only for violators in Russia, The Hill said

Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., voted against the trade bill. Levin said he would have liked the Senate to vote on its version, which included the worldwide sanctions.

The bill goes to President Obama's desk for his consideration.

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