The Senate Finance Committee has approved a Russia trade bill that could both lead to a doubling of U.S. exports and complicate already-frosty relations with Moscow over human rights.

The vote was unanimous to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia while setting up new sanctions against Russian human rights violators. In the background were strong objections to Russia's poor human rights record, its threats against U.S. missile defenses in Europe, its failure to protect intellectual property rights, its discrimination against U.S. agricultural products and most recently its support for the Assad government in Syria.

Enacting permanent trade status is necessary if U.S. businesses are to benefit from the lowering of trade barriers that will take place when Russia enters the World Trade Organization next month.