Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, U.S. lawmakers have agreed on a deal to ban Russian energy imports and to end trade relations with Russia and Belarus. The move comes as U.S. President Joe Biden moves to isolate Russia and Belarus from the international community through deals with Venezuela and Iran for the import of oil.
As prices at the gas pump continue to rise for Americans, Biden has been reluctant to curb Russian oil shipments to the United States or implement energy sanctions that would reduce the supply of energy imports.
Both the U.S. house and senate announced an agreement Tuesday on legislation to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, which includes banning Russian energy imports.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) will ban Russian oil and petroleum from being imported into the United States. It is a companion legislation to the U.S. senate’s Ban Russian Energy Imports Act, which passed on Saturday.
“I’m proud to join forces — both across the aisle and across chambers — to help lead this critical bipartisan bill to ban Russian oil and petroleum from being imported to the United States,” said Gottheimer. “We have the opportunity to cut off Putin’s largest revenue source, to support America’s own energy independence and security, and to work with our allies to stabilize the global energy market to help us mitigate rising energy costs for our hardworking families.”
The legislation, if signed by Biden, would declare a national emergency, specifically with regard to the threat to national security, foreign policy and economy posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It directs the president to prohibit imports of crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas and coal from Russia.
The ban, if passed, would be in place during the national emergency, and only the president or Congress would be able to terminate the emergency and import ban.
Pelosi’s support for the move has received across-the-board support from both Republicans and an increasing number of Democrats.
“I'm all for that," Pelosi said about ending its dependence on Russian oil. “Ban it.”
The move to ban Russian oil comes as members of the Biden administration seek to normalize ties with Venezuela and the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro, whose authoritarianism has meant no formal diplomatic relations between the U.S and Venezuela since 2019.
Rather than ramping up America’s oil production capabilities, the U.S. is seeking alternative energy sources from countries like Venezuela, Iran, and the Gulf states for oil exports to the U.S. and European countries to make up for the loss of supply in the event that imports from Russia cease.