Mar 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan pressure to ban Russian oil builds in Congress

Gas prices over $6.00 and $7.00 a gallon are posted at a petrol station in Los Angeles, California on March 7, 2022.

Gas prices over $6.00 and $7.00 a gallon are posted at a petrol station in Los Angeles, California on March 7, 2022. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) have introduced a bipartisan bill permanently banning Russian oil imports.

Why it matters: They join a growing chorus of lawmakers across the political spectrum calling for a ban to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, despite concerns that such a move would raise gas prices for Americans.

Driving the news: The bill is in addition to bipartisan legislation from House and Senate trade leaders that imposes a ban on Russian energy imports and suspend normal trade relations with Russia.

The details: The Khanna and Mace bill goes a step further than legislation introduced by Sens. Joe. Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) by proposing a permanent ban.

  • It also mandates a plan to replace those imports with alternative, clean sources of energy.

Manchin and Murkowski's bill would implement a ban during a period of national emergency which could be terminated by the president or Congress.

  • That bill has around two dozen co-sponsors ranging from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

What we're watching: It's striking how the issue has so quickly united an unlikely coalition.

  • "[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is with us. Which made me wonder, 'What am I doing?'" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joked at press conference last week. "[Putin], you've done some good nobody else can."
  • Pelosi told reporters on Thursday about a ban, "I’m all for that — ban it."
  • Pelosi, in a Sunday letter to House Democratic colleagues, previewed legislation that would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization, and empower President Biden to raise tariffs on Russian imports.

Between the lines: President Biden has the authority to implement such a ban, but is struggling to balance punishment for Putin and pain for Americans at the gas pump.

  • Top European leaders also stressed that an immediate embargo on Russian oil would not be feasible.
  • That means the Biden administration may move to ban Russian oil imports on a unilateral basis if the U.S. cannot immediately bring along its European allies.
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at briefing Monday that there is an "active discussion" about banning Russian energy imports.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

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