While the House overwhelmingly last week approved a bill to expedite trade between the U.S. and Russia, human rights concerns continue to snag the bill in the Senate. The legislation would grant Russia, now part of the World Trade Organization (WTO), permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the U.S., and remove 1970s restrictions on U.S.-Soviet Union trade based on the old USSR’s blocking of Jewish emigration to Israel.
The bill passed by the House addresses long-standing human rights concerns, its supporters say, because it allow for sanctions against Russian human rights violations, including requiring the President to create a list of human rights violators whose assets can be frozen and U.S. visas revoked.
The Senate wants to expand this section to include sanctions globally, not just against Russia. Critics of this stand say such language will complicate trade and diplomatic relations with China, South and Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.