While adding the Magnitsky provision to the bill, the measure eliminates another human rights act that has been the main stumbling block to permanent normal trade relations.
The bill repeals the 1974 Jackson-Vanik act that tied trade with the then-Soviet Union to Moscow's allowing Jews and other minorities to leave the country. While Jackson-Vanik has long outlived its purpose, it has remained on the books, a mark of the continued difficult relations between the two countries.
It appears unlikely that Congress can act on the trade bill before Russia formally enters the WTO. Congress has only two more weeks before it takes off for its August recess, time likely to be taken up by election-related tax and spending bills.
On the House side, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., welcomed the Senate's action and said he intended to introduce a bill in the next few days. He said he was working with the White House to find a Democratic co-sponsor so the bill could move through his committee on a bipartisan basis.
The bill also establishes permanent normal trade relations with Moldova. Baucus said the former Soviet republic, which joined the WTO in 2001, is the only WTO member that does not have permanent trade status with the United States.
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