The Senate was poised on Thursday to approve legislation to punish Russian human rights violators as part of a broader bill to expand United States trade with the former Cold War enemy.
The vote would send the package to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law despite Moscow’s warning that the human rights provisions will damage relations.
Reuters reported that the House voted 365-43 last month to approve the bill, which grants “permanent normal trade relations” to Russia by lifting a Cold War-era restriction on trade.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would vote on the bill on Thursday after wrapping up five hours of debate earlier in the week.
“Russia is a fast-growing market. For the United States to share in that growth, we must first pass PNTR. And if we do, American exports to Russia are projected to double in five years,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said on Wednesday on the Senate floor.
Business groups have been pushing Congress for months to approve the bill, which would ensure that US companies get all the benefits of Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation. Russia joined the WTO on August 22.
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Senate set to approve Russia trade, rights bill