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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday he's eyeing intervention in the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, a dispute that combined with COVID-19's economic toll is pushing prices sharply downward and creating financial jeopardy for U.S. producers.

At the appropriate time, I will get involved, yes.
— President Trump

Why it matters: The pledge came in Trump's first extensive comments on the upended oil market, but he also suggested that he has mixed feelings about the price collapse.

  • Trump, at a White House briefing on the COVID-19 response, said low gas prices were helpful to consumers. But he also said the decline "hurts a great industry and very powerful industry."
  • "We're trying to find some kind of medium ground," the president said.

Where it stands: Prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose into the $25-per-barrel range Thursday, since dropping Wednesday to about $20, an 18-year low. However, it's still far below the roughly $63 range where prices were at the beginning of the year.

Catch up fast: Early this month, the production-limiting agreement between OPEC and Russia collapsed, prompting Saudi Arabia to announce lower prices and plans to increase supplies.

  • It comes as drastically curtailed travel and economic activity due to COVID-19 are sharply cutting global demand for oil.

What we don't know: Trump did not say what form the U.S. involvement could take.

But the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the U.S. could ask Saudi Arabia to revisit plans to hike output via communications through the State Department and National Security Council.

The story, citing an unnamed administration official, said the U.S. is weighing potential sanctions against Russia.

  • Separately, the Energy Department on Thursday announced a solicitation to buy an initial 30 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, part of a wider plan to fill the stockpile. However, the plan requires congressional approval.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

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House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

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Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.