Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican bill to impose fast sanctions on Russia‘s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a transfer that saved face for President Biden as he struggles to wrangle an more and more bellicose Kremlin.
The bill failed to garner the 60 votes wanted to survive within the Senate, however six Democrats voted sure in defiance of the administration, which lobbied in opposition to the laws.
The bill by Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, would have restored Trump-era sanctions that Mr. Biden withdrew from the almost operational undersea natural-gas pipeline from Russia into Germany. It put Democrats in a bind over backing the tough-on-Russia laws opposed by the administration.
Mr. Cruz chided his colleagues for succumbing to partisanship, fairly than taking a stand in opposition to Moscow.
“There are too many Democrats who are deciding partisan loyalty means more than standing with our allies,” he mentioned. “Partisan loyalty means more than standing with our European friends. Partisan loyalty means more than honoring our treaty agreements. Partisan loyalty matters more than protecting the interests of the United States.”
Last 12 months, lawmakers from each events decried Mr. Biden‘s resolution to waive the sanctions on the pipeline, arguing that the pure fuel pipeline will let Russia tighten its management over the European power market and probably weaponize power supply.
“Thanks to President Biden’s catastrophic surrender and waiving of the mandatory sanctions passed by Congress, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin sees Nord Stream 2 as an alternate route to get his gas to Europe that Ukraine cannot touch,” Mr. Cruz mentioned.
“When President Biden waived the sanctions on this Russian pipeline, the governments of Ukraine and Poland warned then the result would be Russian troops on the border of Ukraine and an imminent invasion,” he mentioned. “They were right.”
Mr. Cruz bought the Senate’s Democratic leaders to schedule a vote on his sanctions bill in change for him releasing holds on dozens of Mr. Biden’s nominees for ambassadorships.
The administration rapidly pushed again in opposition to Mr. Cruz’s bill and lobbied Democrats within the Senate in opposition to it.
“The Administration does not believe this bill is a genuine effort to counter Russian aggression or protect Ukraine,” the White House mentioned in an announcement forward of the vote. “In fact, if passed, the legislation would only serve to undermine unity amongst our European allies at a crucial moment when we need to present a unified front in response to Russian threats against Ukraine.”
The vote performed out in opposition to a backdrop of the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts to cool tensions with the Kremlin amid Mr. Putin’s troop buildup alongside his nation’s border with Ukraine.
Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops on the border, stoking fears of an invasion comparable to its 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The U.S. and its European allies have engaged in talks with Kremlin officers this week over the standoff.
On Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert C. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, launched a measure that might impose sanctions on Russia within the occasion of an invasion.
It supplied Democrats an alternate to the Cruz bill however stopped effectively wanting fast actions in opposition to Moscow.
“Sanctioning Nord Stream now, at this pivotal moment, would have the opposite effect of deterring Putin,” Mr. Menendez mentioned on the Senate flooring simply earlier than the vote. “It might even be the excuse Putin is looking for.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat and an opponent of Mr. Biden’s resolution to waive the sanctions, mentioned she shared the Republicans’ concern about Russia‘s aggression in the direction of Ukraine “and the role that Nord Stream 2 plays in that critical issue.”
But she echoed the administration’s concern that imposing sanctions now would weaken America’s leverage amid the continued negotiations.
“What Sen. Cruz‘s bill would do is not stop Nord Stream 2, it would undermine the current diplomatic situation that is absolutely critical if we are going to respond to the Russian threat,” Mrs. Shaheen mentioned on the Senate flooring. “Supporting his bill would be a vote to compromise trans-Atlantic unity. It is a vote that breaks the message of bipartisan support in the face of Russian aggression.”
Republicans mentioned Mr. Biden took a weak stance on Russia and the U.S. wants to act instantly earlier than the Kremlin features extra leverage.
“Those Democrats’ decision to vote against our NS2 sanctions bill, a bill most of them previously supported and which would take immediate and decisive action to deter Russia, is a blow to transatlantic security and for U.S. allies and partners, especially the people of Ukraine,” mentioned Sen. James E. Risch of Idaho, the highest Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The administration’s efforts to lobby against this bill have done nothing but weaken bipartisanship.”