Senate votes down Cruz’s bill to impose sanctions over Nord Stream pipeline

She needs 60 votes to pass, but she fails 55-44. A handful of Democrats running for re-election voted with Republicans, including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mark Kelly of Arizona, and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jackie Rosen of Nevada also crossed the aisle.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to oppose the bill.

The Biden administration argued that the sanctions would undermine US efforts to deter the threat from Russia. A number of Democrats have been considering whether to withdraw from the White House and support Cruz’s action, apprehensive about appearing softly toward Russia amid rising tensions with Ukraine and eager to send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including through the pipeline. From Russia to Germany.

The vote came after Democrats reached a compromise last month with Cruz, who agreed to lift his suspension on several State Department candidates for the Biden administration if he gets a vote on his sanctions measures.

Before the vote, the Senate’s foreign relations chief, Bob Menendez, took the floor to urge members to vote “no,” and pushed for his bill that would only impose sanctions if Putin decided to invade Ukraine.

“This legislation makes absolutely clear that the US Senate will not stand idly by while the Kremlin threatens to re-invade Ukraine,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are coming together to send a clear message – Putin does not need to completely collapse his economy and does not need to sacrifice the lives of his people in a futile attempt to rewrite the map of Europe. In the end, the most effective punishment for Russia is a strong and united Ukraine, and I look forward to working with my colleagues Democrats and Republicans so that we can provide the people of Ukraine with the kind of support they need to confront the bully in Moscow.”

Menendez has been leading the charge against Cruz’s bill all week. “Putin wants to see Nord Stream 2. If he is killed somehow before any possible invasion, he has even less reason not to invade Ukraine,” Menendez said on Tuesday. “But if we have the mother of all the sanctions that have been imposed against him personally and against Russia, which the legislature would do, then this is, after all, a real deterrent, calculations that Putin must take into account in connection with the invasion of Ukraine.”

Cruz believes that the newly constructed 750-mile pipeline, which is not yet operational, will enable Putin and allow him to retain dangerous influence over Europe by controlling the flow of much-needed natural gas there. The Ukrainian government had come out to support his plan.

Cruz argued that if sanctions were not enforced, it would be existential for Ukraine. “And days, weeks or months from now – if we turn on the TV and watch Russian tanks on the streets of Kiev, it will be because the United States Senate has heard the calls of our Ukrainian allies and we are deaf to them. I pray that we do not. The eyes of history are upon us and this Republican body and Democrats to rise to the occasion.”

The Biden administration on Wednesday ended sanctions options in the event of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to senior administration officials, as talks were underway in Europe between US, Russian and NATO officials aimed at averting war.

A senior administration official said the Biden administration has sanctions targets and enforcement measures “ready to be issued when those tanks cross the border.” “The final package will depend on the exact scenario we are facing… but we are no longer at the point where we just have a memo outlining options. We have concrete actions we are ready to hit the key back.”

“We are prepared for every scenario and the options are very well developed,” another senior administration official said.

As CNN previously reported, the White House has over the past several weeks been analyzing the effects that various sanctions options could have on not only Russia but also the European and American economies. Administration officials said Wednesday that the United States and its allies have determined that while severe economic sanctions are likely to have global economic repercussions, any fallout can be managed.

“The European financial system and its economy in general are in a much better position than they were in 2014, particularly in the banking sector,” said one official. The official also stressed that this was not a question of weighing the costs of imposing sanctions on a “peaceful status quo” scenario – rather, options were weighed against the potential for aggressive actions by Russia that would cause significant instability in the region. The heart of Europe.

The United States is also aware of the danger that Putin will try to retaliate against any economic sanctions by arming Russian gas exports to Europe, which is highly dependent on Russian energy supplies. If Putin goes this route, one official said, it will “tighten Europe’s determination to find supplies elsewhere”.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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