The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to grant Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status.  Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “We took a major step forward today to seize this opportunity to boost U.S. exports to Russia and create the jobs we need here at home.  All this boils down to one thing – jobs. Russia will formally be a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) next month, which is Congress’ deadline for passing PNTR.  There is no time to waste – America risks being left behind.  If Congress misses that deadline, American farmers, ranchers, workers and businesses will lose out to the other 154 members of the WTO that already have PNTR with Russia.”  During consideration of the bill, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) raised concerns of Russia’s compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues.  Current exports to Russia are $9 billion and are expected to double in the next five years.