Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday added complications to the Senate’s final passage of a measure to suspend normal trade relations with Moscow, dealing a blow to Democrats who had hoped to give President Biden tougher ammunition in Russia. during his visit to Brussels to meet with European allies.

The bill would revoke Russia’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status and is part of a broad trade action in coordination with the European Union and Group of Seven (G7) countries.

The measure gives President Biden more leeway to pass tariffs on the country’s products and further weaken the Russian economy in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The two sides had agreed to a quick pass on Thursday afternoon before Kentucky Republican Mr. Paul threatened to block the measure.

Paul’s objections center on the bill’s language, which he says gives the president overly broad sanctioning power under the Global Magnitsky Act – a law passed in 2016 to crack down on human rights abuses. ‘man.

“What they’re trying to do is take the Magnitsky Act and dig a huge hole in it that you can push anything through and impose penalties on anyone anywhere in the world. world based on a vague, ambiguous and broad definition that is not specific,” Paul said on the Senate floor.

“If this language is adopted, it will remove all checks and balances and all definition of what human rights violations are,” he said. “It is a terrible mistake. It’s reckless. And we shouldn’t.

The measure passed through the House last week, passing 424-8, before hitting snags in the Senate following a Republican push to combine the bill revoking Russia’s trade status with a separate measure passed by the House to codify the Russian oil ban, which President Biden invoked. by executive order.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said it would be “unreasonable and fatally wrong” for Mr. Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to block the measure, “especially when the president is abroad”.

“It was imperative that the Senate unite and quickly pass legislation stripping Russia of normal trade relations status with the United States,” he said. “The Chamber has acted. The White House supports him. As the President meets with our allies in Europe, it is very important that we send the message to the world that we are united to ensure [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is paying a heavy price for his war against Ukraine.

The United States has taken steps to ban Russian energy imports, including petroleum and liquefied natural gas, as well as other products such as seafood and alcohol.

On Thursday, the White House announced additional sanctions against more than 400 individuals and entities, including more than 300 Russian lawmakers and more than 40 Russian defense companies.

More than 600 Russian individuals and businesses have been targeted for sanctions since the war began, the White House said.

The measure targeting Russia’s trade relations status would impose higher tariffs on additional Russian products ranging from enriched uranium to crabs.

Russian imports accounted for about 1% of goods from overseas in 2021, according to U.S. trade data, though some industries dependent on certain imports could be hit hard, according to a Congressional Research Services report released last week.

“For example, in 2021, certain titanium products (used by the aerospace industry) accounted for approximately 53% of total U.S. imports of like products,” the report said. “Without the PNTR, the duty rate for these products would increase from 15% to 45%. Based on the dutiable value of these products in 2021, US importers would pay an additional $32.4 million in duties. »

The European Union, the G7 and other “like-minded partners” revoked Russia’s favorable trade status earlier this month.