Democrats and Republicans in the US lower house have joined forces in voting overwhelmingly to end Soviet-era trade restrictions so that American manufacturers and farmers can take advantage of Russia's expanding and more open markets.
The vote in the House of Representatives to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia has been a top priority of American businesses concerned that they are being left behind as Europe and China move into Russia's market of 140 million consumers.
Russia joined the World Trade Organisation in August, a move that requires it to lower tariffs and take other market-opening measures. But unless the congress voted to eliminate a 1974 trade restriction and establish permanent trade relations, the US would be alone among 156 WTO members, unable to benefit from those new trade rules.
The legislation stalled before the election as lawmakers shied away from voting for a measure that might appear to be aiding Russia at a time when President Vladimir Putin's government had become increasingly hostile.
Many legislators have been mollified by the addition to the bill of a measure that punishes Russian officials involved in human rights violations. The bill passed on Friday on a 365-43 vote.
The action came on the third anniversary of the passing of Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison after allegedly being tortured. The human rights bill bears his name.
"It is very gratifying that the first item out of the chute after the election is something we will be able to do in a bipartisan way," said Representative David Dreier, Republican-California, Rules Committee chairman and a strong advocate of free trade.
The legislation, which has the backing of the Obama administration, now goes to the Senate, where the Democratic leadership has indicated it will consider it promptly.
Numerous House members said they would not have voted for the trade bill without inclusion of the human rights measure.
The trade bill, unlike bilateral free trade treaties, requires no concessions from the US side. With passage, US companies and farmers would see lower tariffs, better protections for intellectual property and greater access to Russia's service market and would be able to go to the WTO to resolve disputes.
The administration and economists have predicted that US exports of goods and services, now at $US11 billion ($A10.7 billion), could double in five years if trade relations were normalised.