US senator wins vote on sanctions on Nord Stream 2, in agreement on approval of Reuters envoy

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© Reuters. PHOTOGRAPHY: Two pipe outlets on the mainland of the North Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline were shown on land in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. Image taken by drone. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz will receive a vote in January on his bill to impose sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline in an agreement with Democrats agreeing to lift a ban on dozens of presidential candidates Joe Biden’s ambassador.

In an agreement reached early Saturday between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrats, and Cruz, the Senate will vote before Cruz on January 14 on Cruz’s bill to impose sanctions on the Russia-Germany pipeline.

The agreement paved the way for Senate approval for approximately three dozen ambassadors, including former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan.

Under the agreement, Cruz’s bill, which would impose measures on the pipeline in previous terms, would require 60 votes to pass. This is an obstacle in the 50-50 Senate, where bipartisanship is scarce.

Democrats gathered this fall for a separate measure that would impose sanctions on North Stream 2 and Russian officials only if Russia invades Ukraine, but that law was dropped from the annual defense policy legislation.

A senior Republican congressional aide said Saturday he believes Cruz’s law will pass.

Biden opposes Nord Stream 2, which has been completed, but is awaiting German approval, as it would bypass Ukraine, depriving it of transit and potentially undermining its fight against Russia. The administration also believes the project would increase Russia’s influence in Europe. Moscow says the project is only commercial.

The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In May, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company that controls the pipeline. But sanctions were immediately dropped, saying the project had already been largely built and that the administration was trying to mend ties with ally Germany.

Germany needs time to approve the pipeline. At a standstill for Nord Stream 2, the German energy regulator said on Thursday https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/german-regulator-says-nord-stream-2-launch-not-expected-h1-2022- 2021-12-16 that in the first half of 2022 no decision is expected on whether to allow commissioning.

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