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US House of Representatives to consider Jackson-Vanik repeal and "Magnitsky Act" by weekend

November 14, 2012, 18:16 UTC+3

Sources in the House confirmed that on Thursday the voting on the inclusion of the two bills into a single package will be held, and the next day — the main debate

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WASHINGTON, November 14 (Itar-Tass) — The United States House of Representatives will consider the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Russia by this weekend, the House Committee on Rules confirmed to Itar-Tass on Tuesday as soon as its members approved the document.

The Jackson–Vanik amendment is a 1974 provision in United States federal law, intended to affect US trade relations with countries with non-market economies (originally, countries of the Communist bloc) that restrict freedom of emigration and other human rights. It remains valid, though it has been regularly granted a waiver vis-a-vis the Russian Federation. In 2011, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged a repeal of the law.

The full House will consider the bill before the end of this week. It will happen most likely on Thursday or Friday. It is unlikely that the issue will be resolved as early as Wednesday, an official of the committee staff said. He added that the Jackson-Vanik amendment repeal will be considered in connection with the so-called Magnitsky Act on human rights and the fight against corruption.

Other sources in the House confirmed that on Thursday the voting on the inclusion of the two bills into a single package will be held, and the next day - the main debate. November 16 was named as the date of the debate also on the website of the House Majority Leader Republican Eric Cantor. It is noteworthy that on this day it will be three years since the death in the “Sailor’s Rest” investigative prison of Sergei Magnitsky – an auditor of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, in honour of which one of the documents was named.

During the hearing at the Rules Committee that lasted for less than half an hour, the Congressmen paid attention to human rights issues in Russia. At the same time, they stressed the importance of granting Russia the status of the US permanent normal trade partner. In particular, the Committee Vice Chairman Pete Sessions said that with this step, the exports of US goods to Russia can be significantly increased. Member of the House of Representatives from Michigan Sandy Levin noted for his part that it is important to develop trade relations with Russia, regardless of the political situation.

Immediately after the bill's approval by the House Committee, the US administration - represented by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the White House expressed its position. The OMB statement says, in particular, that “the (US) Administration strongly supports H.R. 6156, which would extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) treatment to the products of the Russian Federation.” It also stresses that “American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers (seek) to reap the same economic benefits in Russia's markets that other WTO members receive.” In this connection the US Administration urged the Congress to “end the applicability of (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) to Russia and authorize the President to extend PNTR to Russia.”

As for the political component of the bill, the “US Administration seeks to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world.” The White House also expressed the intention “to continue working with the Congress to support those seeking a free and democratic future for Russia.”


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