House votes overwhelmingly to suspend normal trade relations with Russia, Belarus

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The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 424-8 to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus amid the invasion of Ukraine.

The Senate will vote next on the suspension, which would enable President Biden to further weaken the Russian economy by levying higher tariffs on Russian goods such as steel, aluminum, plywood and other goods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a flag-raising ceremony via video link at a state residence outside Moscow. (Alexey Nikolsky/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The United States has already moved to cut off about 60% of Russian imports by banning Russian oil and gas, as well as seafood, alcohol and diamonds.

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The vote came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Congress and urged it to act with harsher measures against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks March 16, 2022, to the U.S. Congress by video to plead for support as his country is besieged by Russian forces. (J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images)

"I’m asking to make sure that the Russians do not receive a single penny that they use to destroy people in Ukraine," Zelenskyy told Congress in a video address.

Reps. Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said in a joint statement introducing the bill that Zelenskyy’s remarks "only strengthened our resolve to further isolate and weaken" Putin.

People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of the U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow’s downtown. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin / AP Newsroom)

"We must do all we can to hold Putin accountable for senselessly attacking the Ukrainian people and undermining global stability," they said. "The suspension of normal trade relations is an essential part of our effort to restore peace, save lives and defend democracy."

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "To date, both parties, Democrat and Republican, remain united in sending Putin a clear message: His inhumane violence against the Ukrainian people will come at a crippling price."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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