Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Senate votes on Cruz’s bill to ban the Nord Stream pipeline

Required 60 votes to pass, it failed 55–44. A handful of Democrats running for reelection voted alongside Republicans, including Sens Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jackie Rosen of Nevada also crossed the aisle.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to oppose the bill.

The Biden administration had argued that the sanctions would undermine US efforts to deter the threat from Russia. Many Democrats were weighing whether to break from the White House and withdraw the Cruz measure, wary about looking soft on Russia amid rising tensions with Ukraine and eager to send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. including pipelines. From Russia to Germany.

The vote came after Democrats struck a deal with Cruz last month, agreeing to lift their hold on several Biden administration State Department candidates when they voted on his sanctions measure.

Before the vote, Senate Foreign Relations Speaker Bob Menendez took to the floor urging members not to vote, and lobbied for his own bill, which would impose sanctions only if Putin decided to invade Ukraine. do.

“This law makes it absolutely clear that the US Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens to invade Ukraine again,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are coming together to send a clear message – Putin does not need to demolish his entire economy, nor does he need to sacrifice the lives of his own people in a vain attempt to redraw the map of Europe. Ultimately the most effective sanctions on Russia is a strong and unified Ukraine, and I look forward to working with our Democratic and Republican allies to provide the people of Ukraine with the support they need to face bullying in Moscow “

Menendez was leading the charge against Cruz Bill all week. “Putin wants to see Nord Stream 2. If it is somehow killed before a possible invasion, he has one less reason not to invade Ukraine,” Menendez said on Tuesday. “But if we have the mother of all sanctions imposed personally and against Russia, which my law will do, then ultimately it is a real deterrent, and a reckoning for Putin to take into account as it attacks Ukraine. related to doing.”

Cruz believes the newly built 750-mile pipeline, which is not yet operational, will empower Putin and allow him to take dangerous advantage over Europe by controlling the flow of much-needed natural gas there. The government of Ukraine came out in support of his plan.

Cruz argued that if the sanctions were not implemented, it would cease to exist for Ukraine. “And days or weeks or months from now – if we turn on the television sets and see Russian tanks in the streets of Kiev, it will be because the United States Senate listens to the arguments of our Ukrainian allies and we become a deaf to them. I pray that we don’t. The eyes of history are on us and this body, Republicans and Democrats, to rise to the occasion.”

The Biden administration on Wednesday finalized sanctions options in case Russia invades Ukraine, according to senior administration officials, as talks between US, Russian and NATO officials in Europe aimed at averting war were underway.

A senior administration official said the Biden administration has sanctions targets and implementation measures “ready to be issued when those tanks cross the border.” “The final package will depend on what scenario we are facing… But now we are not at the point where we have only one memo that explains the options. We have concrete action to take that the return key. Ready to hit.”

Another senior administration official said, “We are prepared for every scenario and the options are very well developed.”

As CNN previously reported, the White House had been analyzing for the past several weeks the effects that various sanctions options would have on not only Russia but also on European and US economies. Administration officials said on Wednesday that the US and allies have determined that severe economic sanctions are likely to have a global economic impact, but any spillover can be managed.

“The European financial system and its overall economy are in better health than in 2014, especially in the banking sector,” said one of the officials. The official also emphasized that this is not a matter of weighing the cost of imposing sanctions against the scenario of a “peaceful situation” – rather, the options have been weighed against the possibility that Russia takes aggressive action that could cause significant instability. causes. Heart of Europe.

The US is also aware of the risk that Putin tries to retaliate against any economic sanctions by weaponizing Russian gas exports to Europe, which relies heavily on Russian energy supplies. One of the officials said that if Putin went down that path, it would be “determined to find Europe’s resolve elsewhere.”

CNN’s Manu Raju and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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