Pressure to impose the severest of sanctions on President Vladimir Putin amid his country’s invasion of Ukraine continues to build from all corners, but according to Axios, officials inside President Joe Biden’s administration have actually been twisting Democrat arms in hopes they will not support calls for a ban on Russian oil and gas imports.
According to details the outlet received from Senate aides, lawmakers on the left were leaned on by White House officials to withhold backing from a bipartisan measure championed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act introduced by the lawmakers purports to “declare a national emergency with respect to Russian aggression and immediately prohibit the importation of Russian energy products,” according to the New York Post.
In Murkowski’s words, “[b]y leaving Russia’s energy exports untouched, the United States is ignoring one of our most potent options to stop the bloodshed. We must ban Russia’s energy imports into the U.S. so that Americans aren’t forced to help finance their growing atrocities and halt the Russian aggression.”
If reports of Biden’s lobbying against the measure are true, those actions represent something of a schism between Biden and the leaders of his party, as even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week indicated her support for such a move, saying during a Capitol Hill press briefing, “I’m all for that…ban the oil coming from Russia.”
As Fox News notes, the U.S. presently imports most of its oil from Mexico and Canada, with Russian imports accounting for a mere 3% of the total in 2021, but even so, the White House has shown little interest in taking the step for which so many – even in the president’s own party – have called.
“Our objective and the president’s objective has been to maximize impact on President Putin and Russia while minimizing impact to us and our allies and partners,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday.
“We don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people around the world because it would reduce the supply available. And it’s as simple as less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment. It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin, which is exactly what we are not trying to do,” Psaki added.
Of course, if Biden had not taken drastic steps to reverse America’s energy independence immediately upon taking office to appease the radical left-wing of his party, there would be little need to deliberate the pros and cons of banning Russian oil imports and no pretexts on which cowardly politicians could prevaricate or delay.