The Senate is headed toward a vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) that would essentially force President Biden to impose sanctions on a Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline. Mr. Cruz has a point about the negative geopolitical consequences of the pipeline, but his grandstanding about the issue is accomplishing nothing except to make it more difficult for the Biden administration to handle a matter that’s already complicated enough — Russia’s threatened invasion of Ukraine.

There is wide recognition, both in the administration and on Capitol Hill, that Nord Stream 2, as the pipeline is known, represents an aggressive geopolitical move by Russia, one that will make Europe more dependent on energy from Vladimir Putin, yet which Germany has pursued out of a mistaken sense of self-interest. Understanding that, but aiming to restore relations with Berlin that President Donald Trump had damaged, Mr. Biden waived sanctions on the pipeline company earlier this year, whereupon Mr. Cruz obstructed dozens of ambassadorial nominations in protest.

The impending floor action — possibly as soon as Friday — was the procedural price Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) paid so that 32 Cruz-blocked ambassadors and senior State Department officials could be confirmed. Under the deal, Mr. Cruz’s bill would need 60 votes to pass, which, as he knows, it is unlikely to get. So this is pure political theater — which seems fine with Mr. Cruz. He’ll be perfectly happy to lambaste the many Senate Democrats who have expressed opposition to Nord Stream 2 in the past, or even tentatively supported his bill, if they vote against it. “The only conceivable reason they might vote no is if they make the cynical decision to put partisan loyalty above U.S. national security interests,” Mr. Cruz told Politico.

Actually, all senators have a good reason to vote no, in addition to the fact that the Democratic House would not act on the measure even if it passed the Senate. Sanctioning the pipeline now would exhaust leverage against Russia that’s better held in reserve for potential use after an aggression against Ukraine. And it would embarrass Germany at a moment when its new government, which includes longtime Green Party critics of the pipeline, is already inching toward the U.S. position on its own. In fact, Germany has not yet approved any actual flow of energy, ostensibly because of regulatory concerns. The Biden administration has told some members of Congress that Berlin will suspend the pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Another reason not to support Mr. Cruz’s gambit is that senators have an alternative: a bill crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), in consultation with the White House, which would require the administration to impose crippling financial sanctions on Russia and reconsider its Nord Stream 2 sanctions waiver in the event of an invasion. (The president could waive the law for national security reasons.) Supporting this measure would show solidarity with Ukraine — and add to NATO’s ongoing effort to deter Russia.

Messaging and symbolism are secondary, however, to negotiations in Europe, which on Wednesday included a NATO-Russia encounter no less inconclusive than the bilateral U.S.-Russia meetings that ended Monday. What hope there is for stopping Mr. Putin hinges on maintaining the president’s freedom of action and a united front among allies; Mr. Cruz’s mischief interferes on both counts.