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Senate Democrats Blocks Sanctions Aimed at their friend Russia's Pipeline

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The Senate blocked a measure to impose new sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany after the Biden administration warned it could disrupt allied unity in the confrontation over Ukraine.

The measure by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas failed on a vote of 55 to 44. It needed 60 votes to pass.

The vote was held open for several hours as Democrats grappled with a setback on unrelated voting rights legislation.

“Russia has nakedly and unequivocally used energy as energy blackmail,” Cruz said Thursday on the Senate floor. President Vladimir Putin has done that “openly, brazenly and laughingly and absolutely nothing happened,” Cruz said.

Opponents of the measure said it would damage U.S. cooperation with Germany and other NATO partners as they try to head off a potential invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s forces deployed on its borders.

The bill “would undermine the current diplomatic situation,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who had introduced earlier sanctions proposals with Cruz. “We are in a very different situation right now” than when two earlier bills were passed.

The Biden administration also has argued that imposing new sanctions on the undersea pipeline now could undercut the U.S.’s ability to persuade other European nations to join in severe economic penalties later if Russia invades Ukraine.