News / Europe

    US House to Vote on Russia Trade and Human Rights Bill

    Cindy Saine
    The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Friday on a combined bill that would upgrade U.S. trade relations with Russia, while punishing Russian officials for human rights violations.  
     
    The House is expected to vote on the package that merges two bills on Russia.  One bill would repeal a Cold War-era provision known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, that linked favorable U.S. tariffs on Russian goods to the right of Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate.  Congress needs to approve "permanent normal trade relations" status with Russia for American companies to receive all of the market benefits from Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.
     
    Some lawmakers, including Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, says changes in Russia should be recognized.
     
    "Today's Russia is not yesterday's Soviet Union; that is the most important message.  Over 20 years of reform have created an imperfect country, yes, but also a new Russia with a relative free press," he said. 
     
    The vote comes on the third anniversary of the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in jail after exposing a massive tax fraud.  The second part of the legislative package would direct the U.S. government to deny visas and freeze the U.S. bank assets of Russian officials involved in the detention, abuse or death of Magnitsky.
     
    Democratic Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts says the vote on the so-called Magnitsky Act sends an important message.
     
    "It says that here in the United States that we care about human rights, and that it does matter.  And that people who commit human rights violations, not just in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, but in a whole range of other cases, there is a consequence.  You will be named, people are watching," he said.  
     
    McGovern says that the package of merged bills has broad bipartisan support. "This concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia is not a concern just by Democrats or just by Republicans.  There was a rare display of unity today," he said. 
     
    If the bill passes in the House as expected, it would then go to the Senate, where supporters are optimistic that it will be approved.  It then would go to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it.
     
    Russia has warned the United States to expect a tough response if Congress passes what it calls  "unfriendly and provocative'' legislation.  Russian officials have not specified what actions Moscow would take, but say U.S.-Russia ties would suffer. 
     

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
    November 16, 2012 8:32 AM
    The USA legislators face a tough choice – to get a better access to the Russian market at the cost of giving in to uncovered blackmail from those in the Kremlin who didn’t repent in the exposed lawlessness of the regime and worldwide publicity of the Magnitsky murder. Nevertheless, they’re highly dependent on the West for the universities to their kids, on banks for their riches, on certain countries for their villas & castles ready for their retirement. They subconsciously know that there is no future for them in post-Putin’s Russia as the ground will burn under their feet.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora