Senate vote sends Russian trade and human rights bill to President Obama
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian trade and human rights bill cleared Congress and headed for President Barack Obama's signature Thursday, opening up new export opportunities for American businesses but antagonizing relations with Russia over its treatment of dissidents.
The Moscow government, while welcoming better trade relations, has threatened retaliation over a section of the bill that would punish Russian officials who allegedly commit human rights violations.
The 92-4 vote by the Senate to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia followed an equally convincing vote in the House last month. The bill eliminates a long-obsolete 1974 provision, called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, that tied trade relations with the former Soviet Union to the emigration of Jews and other Soviet minorities.
The White House says it strongly supports the bill, which also extends permanent normal trade relations to the former Soviet state of Moldova.