Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) spoke on the floor for passage of the “Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act.”
CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Brady’s opening remarks.
Rep. Brady’s full remarks as prepared for delivery appear below.
Yesterday, President Zelensky made a passionate plea to the United States and all free nations: to stand with the brave people of Ukraine against Putin’s deadly ambitions and heartbreaking genocide.
After showing gut-wrenching footage of Ukrainian cities torn apart by missiles and machine guns, he said: ‘To be the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.’
Today, Madame Speaker, we have the opportunity to lead, and I thank Chairman Neal for his great leadership and work on this bipartisan provision.
After bipartisan public pressure from lawmakers in Congress – in both parties – President Biden announced his support for suspending Russia’s special trade status, and we are taking that action with today’s bill.
I was proud to have helped lead this bipartisan effort of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.
Both parties in Congress came together quickly, working in good faith on a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to immediately ban purchases of Russian energy and suspend our trading relationship with Russia and Belarus.
We don’t take these steps lightly, but Russia’s aggression requires this approach.
Russia will no longer enjoy the same special trade status with America as the country it is invading, so that it will no longer be able to sell Made-in-Russia products into the United States at lower tariffs.
Combined with the energy import ban Congress passed last week – which targets 60 percent of what Russia sells us – this provision targets the remaining 40 percent, hurting Russia’s economy and cutting off funding for its war effort.
Said another way: American dollars will no longer fund Russia’s war machine.
This is another step in the right direction and includes further incentives for Russia to end its aggression.
This bill includes tough conditions to be met for restoring Russia’s trade status, including Russian action to end hostilities, protecting the freedom and sovereignty of Ukraine, and ensuring the end of Russia’s aggression.
The same tough conditions apply if the President seeks to end the energy import ban, and I plan to work with colleagues in the Senate to achieve that.
Going forward, we must continue to work closely with our allies to increase pressure on Russia and ensure this is an effective, global effort.
Neighboring Canada has also taken serious action to do both of these, and other nations have announced their intentions to do the same.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s executive orders and the bill we’re voting on today both fail to soften the impact of the oil ban by replacing Russian oil with Made-in-America energy.
We’ve seen the highest year over year increase on wholesale prices ever recorded. Nearly half of the price increases in goods come from the rise in the price of gasoline over the past year.
Nothing in this bill creates access to more American-made energy on or off-shore.
Nor does it approve American pipelines that could easily replace Russian oil with U.S. and Canadian energy. Or accelerate approval for delayed permits for American export facilities to help the world wean themselves from the grip of dirty Russian energy.
There is still yet more Congress can do. I would like to see Congress sanction Russian energy companies so they can’t continue to profit and fuel their war machine.
It’s also time for Congress to unleash America’s own ability to be energy independent, to replace Russian oil with American sources, and use our energy strengths to wean the world from Russian energy.
Finally, I want to make it clear to my colleagues this bipartisan, bicameral agreement applies only to the suspension of normal trade relations with Russia.
I do not support the inclusion of the Democrat’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s Global Magnitsky Act in this bill, which includes changes to the original statute that I believe is unnecessarily vague and could lead to future abuses.
I understand this expanded language may have been included in a temporary executive order by the previous administration to address human rights, but I don’t believe it is warranted in a permanent extension of this law.
I am confident there are Senators who share my concerns, and I strongly urge them to remove that provision for future vetting.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.