Congress Introduces Bill Banning Russian Oil Imports, Suspending Normal Trade Relations With Russia, Belarus
TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the National Space Centre construction site in Moscow on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Sergei GUNEYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI GUNEYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

The leaders of the top House and Senate Committees overseeing trade policy have announced bipartisan legislation suspending normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

CSPAN Capitol Hill Producer Craig Caplan reported that House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX), along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) had announced the deal Monday.

“As Russia continues its unprovoked attack on the Ukrainian people, we have agreed 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 four Congressional leaders said in a statement Monday, via Caplan. “While Congress needs to do more, as 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 & unjust war on Ukraine & hold Belarus accountable for its involvement.”

Brady confirmed the news Monday in an appearance on Fox Business’s “Mornings with Maria.” “Congress is moving and I expect bipartisan legislation to be introduced very soon, as early as today, that would both ban Russian imports of energy to America and would suspend normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus,” Brady told host Maria Bartiromo. “We ought not to be providing any financial support to the Russian economy in this war, nor should we be giving them favored trading status for their products coming into the United States, and so I think this sends a clear signal to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin that this war is unacceptable and that we stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also issued a statement Sunday indicating that the House was proposing a ban on Russian oil imports. “[The] House is currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy,” Pelosi wrote in a dear colleague letter. “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 Biden administration has yet to make a decision on a potential import ban. “No decision has been made, at this point, by the president, about a ban on … importing oil from Russia,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the daily press briefing Monday afternoon. “Those discussions are ongoing internally, and also with our counterparts and partners in Europe and around the world.”

Congress and the Biden administration have been aggressive in putting sanctions on Russia both before and after the invasion of Ukraine, but so far, the sanctions imposed on the Russian economy have not been directly targeted at the country’s energy sector, except for some sanctions targeting the Russian company behind the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. Congressional Republican leaders have criticized the Biden administration for failing to crack down on Russian energy or revitalize American energy production at home.

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