On Sunday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced in a letter that the House is considering a bill to ban any further imports of Russian energy into the United States.
As reported by The Hill, Pelosi’s letter says that “Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization.”
“We would also empower the Executive branch to raise tariffs on Russian imports,” the letter continued. She also addressed a request by the Biden Administration to fund $10 billion in “humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine,” and said that “Congress intends to enact this emergency funding this week as part of our omnibus government funding legislation.”
Last week, a bill was introduced in the Senate to ban imports on Russian oil. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are both members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In a statement on Saturday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced his support for the bill, declaring that “the United States cannot continue to purchase millions of barrels of oil while Putin wages an unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.”
The sanctions imposed on Russia by the Biden Administration up to this point, notably, have not targeted Russia’s energy sector. But on Sunday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken admitted that the administration was having an “active discussion” on whether or not to extend the sanctions to energy after all.
“When it comes to oil, Russian oil, I was on the phone yesterday with president and other members of the Cabinet on exactly the subject,” Blinken said in an interview with CNN. And we are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets.”
Nevertheless, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had previously said on Thursday that the Biden Administration did not “have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy,” since such a move “would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people around the world.” Gas prices have already been skyrocketing all across the country, with some areas seeing prices reach as high as $5 a gallon; several areas in California have seen gas become as expensive as $7 a gallon.
On the same day as Psaki’s statements, Pelosi again reaffirmed her support for banning Russian energy from the U.S.
“I’m all for that,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “Ban it.”