Washington’s efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine continued to ramp up Monday, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced an agreement on a “legislative path forward to ban the import of energy products from Russia and to suspend normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus.”
The agreement involves the House Ways and Means Committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, and its top Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, along with the Senate Finance Committee’s chairman, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, and its top Republican, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho.
“While Congress needs to do more, as the congressional leaders with jurisdiction over our nation’s trade policy, we are committed to using the tools at our disposal to stop Russia’s unconscionable and unjust war on Ukraine and to hold Belarus accountable for its involvement,” the statement from the lawmakers said. A bill should come from the group “very soon, as early as today,” Brady said on Monday during a Fox Business interview.
They look on track to add to the legislation aiming to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil and petroleum products.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia last week introduced a bill that would deliver such a ban, as well as prohibit the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal from Russia. It’s called the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act.
And there’s similar legislation from Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, with Reps. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, and Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, rolling out a House version of that bill. Called the SPIGOT Act (short for Severing Putin’s Immense Gains from Oil Transfers), it would prohibit the importation of Russian oil and petroleum products.
The U.S. imported over half a million barrels per day of Russian crude and petroleum products last year, amounting to about 7% of total U.S. imports, according to Matt Smith, lead oil
analyst for the Americas at data firm Kpler.
Congress has the authority to initiate sanctions such as a ban on Russian oil through legislation, but that type of action tends to come as an executive order from the president.
President Joe Biden has not made a decision about banning Russian oil imports into the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. She offered that update after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the U.S. and European partners are discussing a ban on imports of Russian oil in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.