Posts Tagged ‘pntr’
The Senate in the early hours of January 1 passed a resolution expressing disappointment in Russia’s new ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families.
Russia’s ban takes effect today, and is seen as a reaction to congressional passage of the so-called Magnitsky Act. That act calls for new sanctions against Russian officials involved in the 2009 death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was probing fraud in the Russian government.
The Magnitsky language was part of legislation granting Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, which President Obama signed into law on December 14.
The Senate resolution, from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), expresses the “deep disappointment” in the adoption ban, and encourages Russia to reconsider the law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the adoption ban into law last Friday.
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The influence industry scored several hard-fought victories in a year in which lawmakers were more focused on campaigning than legislating.
Though the winners and losers in the lobbying battle over the “fiscal cliff” are not yet known, a number of companies, trade groups and lobbyists already have a signature triumph to call their own in 2012.
The tech industry beat back legislation that would have put a tighter leash on the Internet; business groups outmuscled Tea Party activists to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank; and Wall Street managed to water down a provision in fast-moving ethics legislation.
Here’s a look at the top 10 lobbying victories of 2012, along with the groups and companies — and at least one persistent investment fund manager — who won them.
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US President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law the Magnitsky Act, a bill punishing Russian officials for alleged human rights violations that US lawmakers attached to a landmark trade bill normalizing trade relations with Moscow.
The aspects of the law targeting Russian officials, which simultaneously repeals the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik law, has angered the Kremlin, which says it is an attempt by the United States to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs.
The law calls on the White House to draw up a list of Russian officials deemed by Washington to be complicit in rights abuses. These officials will then be banned from obtaining US visas and have their US assets frozen.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued an angry statement Friday in response to the new US law, calling the linking of the human rights legislation to the trade bill “cynical.”
The statement also made reference to the Obama administration’s original reluctance to attach the Magnitsky Act to the trade legislation, an effort that had overwhelming bipartisan support in the US Congress.
“We regret that a US administration declaring its commitment to the development of stable and constructive bilateral relations was unable to defend its stated position against those who look to the past and see our country not as a partner, but rather an opponent—fully in line with the canons of the Cold War,” the ministry said in the statement.
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The U.S. Senate has voted to permanently lift Cold War-era barriers to trade with Russia, a move long sought by Moscow that could increase commerce between the countries by billions of dollars.
In the same vote, senators also voted to sanction Russian officials implicated in the death of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and in other perceived gross rights violations in Russia.
Moscow has railed against that move, which has overshadowed the trade benefits to come.
The Senate’s 92-4 vote follows the passing of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in November. U.S. President Barack Obama is now expected to sign it into law.
When he does, Moscow will be exempted from the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which imposed trade restrictions on the Soviet Union for its policy of limiting Jewish emigration. The restrictions have been waived for nearly two decades, but remained on the books as a symbol of U.S. objections to Russia’s human rights record.
Citing the weak U.S. economy, the White House had pushed Congress to lift the restrictions and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to Russia, the world’s seventh largest economy.
The move allows the United States to take full advantage of Moscow’s August entry into the World Trade Organization, which China and Europe have already benefited from.
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The US Senate on Thursday passed the Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian officials deemed by Washington to have violated human rights, along with a landmark trade bill with Russia.
The Senate voted 92 to 4 to approve the legislation, which would simultaneously repeal the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanick restrictions on trade with Russia, establish normalized bilateral trade relations with Moscow, and introduce visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials considered by the White House to be guilty of human rights violations.
The decision to link the rights legislation to the trade bill has angered Russia, which has promised retaliatory measures aimed at the United States.
There was little suspense to the fate of the bill in the Senate. It was widely expected to pass, and it will now go to US President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
In the lead-up to Thursday’s vote, however, there was a question about whether provisions targeting Russian officials would be extended to every country in the world. The US House of Representatives’ version of the bill focused exclusively on Russia, while the Senate version called for purportedly corrupt officials in other countries to be punished as well.
The Senate ultimately agreed to the language in the House bill and focus just on Russia.
“This bill may only apply to Russia, but it sets a standard that should be applied globally,” Sen. Benjamin Cardin, the author of the Magnitsky Act, said in a statement ahead of the vote. “I encourage other nations to follow our lead.”
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The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote later on December 6 on legislation that would end Cold War-era restrictions on trade with Russia and Moldova but also impose sanctions on alleged human rights violators in Russia.
Last month, the House of Representatives approved the legislation, which grants “permanent normal trade relations” to Moscow. That would allow U.S. companies to take advantage of the benefits from Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization in August.
But the legislation also requires the United States to freeze assets and deny visas to Russian officials implicated in the death of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and in other perceived gross violations of human rights.
Magnitsky died in torturous prison conditions in 2009 after exposing a massive fraud scheme.
On the eve of the vote, senators debated the bill.
Many argued that passage of the Magnitsky Act would provide the United States with a powerful tool to advance human rights in Russia.
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The Senate is set to endorse legislation that both normalizes trade with Russia and highlights the discord between the two countries over human rights issues.
The vote Thursday to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia will bring considerable relief to U.S. exporters and investors anxious about losing shares of Russia’s growing market to European and Chinese competitors. It also could bring retaliation from Moscow over a provision that sanctions Russian officials who allegedly commit human rights violations.
The House passed the legislation last month on a 365-43 vote, and President Barack Obama’s administration has urged Congress to move quickly to get it to the president’s desk.
There’s a sense of urgency because Russia in August became the last major economic power to enter the World Trade Organization, committing it to lowering tariffs, removing other trade barriers, protecting intellectual property, opening up its service industries and submitting to the WTO’s dispute resolution process.
But unless Congress formally normalizes trade relations, U.S. exporters will be alone among the members of the 157-nation WTO unable to enjoy the increased market access. That puts them at a serious disadvantage in competing for sales in the world’s ninth-largest economy, with an estimated 140 million consumers.
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When this nation’s founders devised a national legislature, they created two chambers: the House and Senate. Representatives from local jurisdictions would advance more parochial needs; senators would focus on broader strategic issues. The notion of internal checks and balances within the legislative branch itself helped to seal ratification of the Constitution; the House and Senate would work together as well as at cross-purposes.
What wasn’t likely envisioned was that, hundreds of years later, one senator and one congressman from an original colony would serve as counterweights in a debate that involved the Cold War, Jewish immigration, multibillion-dollar companies, and a Russian lawyer who died in his jail cell. Just a few miles apart geographically, with motivations reflecting their conscience as well as status, Massachusetts’ Senator John Kerry and Representative Jim McGovern are key actors in an episode that is as much about constitutional architecture as it is modern day realpolitik.
A vote expected in the Senate on Thursday would grant normalized trade relations with Russia and finally end the Cold War. The bill, after last month’s similar vote in the House, would revoke the 1974 ban, known as Jackson-Vanik, that penalized US-Russian economic investments because of the Soviet Union’s prohibition on emigration for Jews. Times have changed, as have global markets, and the expected Senate approval would create a permanent normal trade relationship with Russia. All this activity is in response to Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization last August, essentially setting ground rules for foreign access to Russian industries and lowering any import tariffs; the United States doesn’t want to be left behind.
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A bill granting normal trade relations to Russia is likely headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature after key objections have been dropped in the Senate.
The Senate is on course to vote on granting Russian permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) on Thursday. The bill also contains human rights provisions aimed at punishing those accused of murdering lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights violations.
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on the Senate floor that they are willing to look to other bills to try to make the Magnitsky provisions apply to all countries.
“I will not let perfection become the enemy of the good,” Kyl said.
“I hope we will make this statutorily global. We will have that debate at a later date,” Cardin said.
The House bill on the Senate floor only applies human rights provisions to Russia, and attempts to amend it could have led to a stalemate with the House. Big business lobbyists, opposed to the sanctions in the bill, have been keen to limit the Magnitsky provisions just to Russia.
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