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Will the US Congress vote for sanctions against Nord Stream 2? | Explainer

Nord Stream sign (Photo:
A sign promoting Gazprom’s Nord Stream gas pipeline. Photo:
Will the US Congress vote for sanctions against Nord Stream 2? | Explainer
In a few days, on January 14, the US Senate will consider a bill on sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. European Pravda published an explainer by Svitlana Kovalchuk, deputy director of the YES forum, on whether it will succeed. Here are the short takeaways.

The bill, proposed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, seeks to return tighter sanctions against Russia’s gas pipeline within 15 days of its approval and allows Congress to vote in favor of re-imposing sanctions, even if the president vetoes them.

In essence, if this law is passed, it will allow to cancel out US President Joe Biden’s attempts to restart relations with Germany, a key part of which was Washington’s agreement to lift some of the sanctions against Nord Stream-2.

Ted Cruz has consistently fought against this concession. Due to a de facto blackmail, which blocked the appointment of dozens of ambassadors, Cruz reached a compromise with the majority leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer.

Will the law be passed?

60 votes are needed to pass the bill. This means that even if all Republicans vote “yes,” 10 more Democratic senators are still needed.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who proposed the bill, is confident that these votes will be found. Even if it means that Democratic senators will vote against their president’s position.

Many Democrats have previously called for sanctions against Nord Stream 2.

These statements may now be a problem for them, as Democrats must choose between keeping their promises and supporting US President Joe Biden.

Please recall that Joe Biden himself has long opposed the completion of Nord Stream 2, but when he took office when the construction of the pipeline was almost completed, he was forced to change his position.

The State Department claims that Cruz’s bill will undermine the “united front” with Europe in opposition to Russia. And this argument is influential in the Senate.

According to Politico, in early January there was a reversal of sentiment ß- Democrats began to gradually abandon support for the Republican bill.

So the chances of finding the necessary 10 votes of Democratic senators are becoming increasingly illusory.

Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who recently worked with Cruz to counter Nord Stream 2, also opposes the bill.

It is easier for Democrats to vote for an alternative bill introduced by Democrat Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He had previously submitted a bill that would have sanctioned Nord Stream 2 in the event of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This position is much closer to Joe Biden’s course, and accordingly, it is easier for Democrats to support this project, abandoning the more radical Republican bill.

But even if the bill fails, we can expect the Republicans to continue the topic of Nord Stream 2 sanctions. It is possible that Cruz’s blocking of the appointment of ambassadors will continue, flowing into the Republicans’ electoral campaign.

As many Democrats are facing reelections, it will be hard for them to explain to their voters why they abandoned the idea of sanctioning Nord Stream 2, which they had earlier supported.

There are a couple of days left before the decisive vote, during which the parties will try to change the situation in their favor.

Among these attempts is an appeal by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Ukraine asks all its friends in the US Senate to support the law on the protection of Europe’s energy security,” he wrote.

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