March 23,2022

Crapo: We Must Take Firm, Comprehensive Action Against Russia

Offers amendment to revoke Russia's trade status and ban oil imports

Madam President, reserving the right to object, I rise to address Ukraine’s perilous situation. 

There is broad agreement in this Chamber, and in the House of Representatives, that America’s response—in all areas—to Russia and Belarus’s aggression against Ukraine must be comprehensive and strong.   

Leveraging the benefits of the U.S. trade relationship with Russia is just such a response that will add to the pressures on Putin to rethink his actions in Ukraine, and punish him for what he’s already done. 

On March 8, Democrat and Republican leadership in the Senate Finance Committee and House Committee on Ways & Means reached agreement on precisely that type of response.   

  • The bicameral, bipartisan agreement is called the “Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act,” and its provisions include:  Banning Russian energy imports, including various forms of petroleum, natural gas, and coal;
  • Moving Russia and Belarus to the same pariah trade status as North Korea and Cuba;
  • Providing the President additional authority to raise tariffs on Russia and Belarus even further;
  • Calling on WTO Members to take similar actions to deprive Russia of its trade benefits; and
  • Sending a crystal clear message to Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, that he will never see these trade benefits restored until he reverses his aggression, stops threatening our NATO allies and recognizes the right of the Ukrainian people to live freely.  

None of this is controversial; and all of it is necessary.  

Yet, only a day after the deal was made, and with neither warning nor explanation, the House split the energy ban from the trade status provision, and bifurcated the two measures further by imposing separate standards on Putin’s actions in Ukraine before any president can think to restore trade benefits to Russia without Congressional approval.   

Each bill passed by over 400 votes, but the House decided to only transmit its bill on Russia’s trade status, its Permanent Normal Trade Relations, or PNTR piece, even though it passed more than a week after the energy ban. 

The important point is that our House colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree both restrictions need to happen. Some may wonder why the urgent need for the congressional energy import ban, after the President provided one in his Executive Order.   

Speaker Pelosi was asked just that question when she put her new House version of the import ban up for a vote, and she stated, correctly, to her House colleagues —“you’re here to legislate.”   

Absolutely, that’s why we are here. 

And our legislative response—more especially its certification requirements—must deliver an unmistakable message to Putin: no relief until you stop your aggression and recognize Ukraine’s inalienable right to live free and choose its leaders.  

The energy ban and trade status revocation are complementary, and they must work together.   

While President Biden’s executive order to ban Russian oil was a positive step, the Senate and House need to impose tough conditions on Putin’s treatment of Ukraine to be met before any President seeks an end the energy import ban.   

These conditions are like those Congress had done in the bipartisan Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, legislation which we negotiated when I was Banking Committee Chairman during the Trump Administration.  

Enacting a Russian oil ban will demonstrate to the Ukrainian people and our NATO allies that Congress is committed to cutting off Russia’s funding for its war effort.   

Many of our allies, including in Europe, are debating whether to adopt an energy ban against Russia.  By the United States Congress acting definitively and with certainty through our congressional action, our allies will be all the more encouraged to take similar stands against Russian energy exports—which account for over a third of Russia’s budget. 

I seek to continue to our bipartisan tradition by introducing text that is as close to the original deal as possible except in two respects—that respond to the points made by our Majority Leader—both made to facilitate our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. 

First, I am making a single technical correction made at the request of Senators Manchin and Murkowski to comport with the timeline of the President’s Executive Order regarding the oil ban.  So that no delay, which was mentioned as a possible problem, will exist.  This edit is necessary to avoid that delay and it solves that problem.  

Second, I have revised the certification criteria that would allow the restoration of trade benefits to match exactly what the House passed. 

The original deal provided that benefits could not be restored until Russia withdrew its forces and stopped posing an immediate threat to NATO allies and partners.  To secure bipartisan support, I yielded to what the House passed:  that Russia need only reach an agreement with a president to withdraw its forces rather than have definitively withdrawn them, and that Russia not pose a threat to NATO members, as opposed to NATO members and their partners. 

Again, this is to match what the House has requested. 

Mind you, I have many colleagues on my side who would like to do many more things—and I agree with their requests.  But on the trade front, I am willing to make these concessions to get this done.  

My view is that we should act quickly, we must do it together, and we must do it today.  There is no reason to wait for another revenue bill to come from the House before we act. 

So let us mark the bravery of Ukrainian people by passing the strongest legislation we can today in the trade space.    

Accordingly, I am asking the Senator to modify his request to take the firm, comprehensive action against Vladimir Putin that circumstances require. 

I ask the Senator to modify his to make it in order for the Crapo substitute amendment, which is at the desk, to be considered and agreed to, and that the Senate vote on the passage of the bill, as amended.