Senate Democrats sink Ted Cruz’s bill to sanction Nord Stream 2

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The Senate failed to pass a bill approving the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Thursday after the Biden administration aggressively lobbied Democrats to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz’s attempt to target the Putin-backed project.

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Why this matters: The 55-44 vote is the culmination of Cruz’s months-long push to force Democrats to an uneasy vote on Nord Stream 2, which the Ukrainian government has said poses “no less threat to our security” than tens of thousands of Russian people. than the gathering of soldiers on its border. The bill needed 60 votes to pass.

  • Censors Katherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (Dn.H.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) was the only Democrat to vote in favor of the bill.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only Republican to vote against it.

How we got here: Persistent US administrations have opposed Nord Stream 2, fearing that the Russia-to-Germany pipeline would give Vladimir Putin more leverage to coerce Europe and deny Ukraine billions of dollars in gas transit fees.

  • Democrats and Republicans in Congress heavily supported sanctions against the pipeline during the Trump administration, temporarily halting its construction.
  • By the time President Biden entered office, Nord Stream 2 was 95% complete. Biden waived sanctions on the operator of the pipeline in May 2021, seeking to improve relations with Germany and a deal to reduce damage to Ukraine and Europe.
  • In response, Cruz began a blockade of all Biden’s State Department nominees until the administration reimposed restrictions. He reached an agreement in December with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.) to release his hold on 32 candidates in exchange for a Senate vote on his bill.
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Behind the scenes: Over the past several weeks, the Biden administration has sent top State Department officials to Capitol Hill and distributed talking points To lobby Democrats who felt uncomfortable opposing the sanctions.

  • The administration has argued that Cruz’s bill would undermine “trans-Atlantic unity” at a crucial moment in the West’s push to defuse the crisis on Ukraine.
  • The State Department has also pointed to the comments of the German Foreign Minister which said that gas will not flow Arguing that the Nord Stream 2 has become a valuable source of leverage if Russia invades Ukraine via the pipeline.
  • But the German Chancellor refused To make the same commitment, and members of the European Parliament tell Nerdshala that it is Nord Stream 2 – not the threat of sanctions – that is “toxicizing” the trans-Atlantic relationship.

What will happen next: Bob Menendez (DN.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a White House backed bill If Biden determines that Russia has crossed a border, it will impose a cascade of crushing sanctions and authorize further military aid to Ukraine.

  • The bill is partly designed to provide political cover to Democrats who still support Ukraine and have a hard line against Russia.
  • Senate Republicans own Russia Sanctions Bill And will push for the vote, believing that the cost against Putin should be levied now – not after the invasion – in order to have a deterrent effect.
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Between the lines: A bipartisan Senate majority is now on record supporting immediate sanctions on Nord Stream 2, despite the Biden administration’s full-court press.

  • Any future vote on the Russian sanctions package now runs the risk of Republicans proposing amendments to approve the pipeline – this time, at the 51-vote limit.
  • A source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Nerdshala: “Kiev is certain that the NS2 will eventually be approved. We hope this is before further damage to trans-Atlantic unity and European security.”

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