by Thomas Catenacci
A group of bicameral Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would prohibit the U.S. from importing Russian oil and petroleum products.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin unveiled the Banning Russian Energy Imports Act which would ban the import of Russian oil and petroleum to the U.S. amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. More than a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers announced their support for the bill.
The U.S. imported more than 670,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia in 2021, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed. That figure represented a 24% year-over-year uptick compared to 2020.
“The entire world is on edge as Vladimir Putin terrorizes the sovereign democratic nation of Ukraine,” Manchin said in a statement on Thursday. “The U.S. cannot continue to purchase more than half a million barrels of oil per day because in doing so, we are emboldening Putin to continue using his greatest weapon of war – energy exports.”
“The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act would declare a national emergency with respect to Russian aggression and immediately prohibit the importation of Russian energy products,” he added. “Importantly, this bipartisan bill shows our strong commitment to stand behind the valiant efforts of the Ukrainian people and the measures our allies in Europe are taking to rebuke Putin and his continued aggression.”
The West Virginia Democrat urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to quickly bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.
In addition to the import ban, the legislation would declare a national emergency given the threat the invasion poses to “national security, foreign policy and the economy.” President Joe Biden or Congress would be able to end the national emergency, and therefore the import ban, at any time.
The legislation exempts products already in transit at the time it is signed into law.
“Energy exports are Putin’s lifeline, which is exactly why we need to cut them off,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.
Russia’s federal government relies upon its oil and gas industry to fund 40% of its annual budget.
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman, Democratic Sens. John Hickenlooper and Jon Tester, Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer joined Manchin in co-sponsoring the legislation.
Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested she would back a law banning oil imports from Russia.
“I’m all for that,” she told reporters during a press conference. “Ban it.”
However, the White House has opted against directly sanctioning the Russian fossil fuel industry, arguing it would harm American consumers.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Manchin during press conference” by SenatorJoeManchin.