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Lawmakers strike bipartisan deal on legislation to ban Russian energy imports

It remains unclear whether President Joe Biden would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.
Image: A worker moves drilling pipes at the Gazprom PJSC gas drilling rig in the a gas field near Irkutsk, Russia, on April 7, 2021.
A worker moves pipes at a Gazprom PJSC gas drilling rig near Irkutsk, Russia, last year. Andrey Rudakov / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee announced Monday that they had struck a bipartisan deal to pass legislation that would ban the import of energy products from Russia.

Whether President Joe Biden, who has not committed to a ban on Russian oil, would sign the legislation remains unknown.

“No decision has been made at this point by the president about a ban importing oil from Russia," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters after the bipartisan deal was announced, adding that “those discussions are ongoing internally” and “with our partners.”

Psaki said the topic of an oil ban was raised in Biden’s call with European leaders earlier in the day, and she noted that the U.S. is much less dependent on Russian oil than Europe is.

The legislative agreement in Congress also calls for a suspension in normal trade relations with Russia and its ally Belarus. The bill would provide the president with authority to further increase tariffs on products from those two countries and would require the U.S. trade representative to seek the suspension of Russia's participation in the World Trade Organization.

"Taking these actions will send a clear message to Putin that his war is unacceptable and the United States stands firmly with our NATO allies," the four lawmakers said in a joint statement.

The lawmakers include Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and top Republican Kevin Brady of Texas, as well as Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and top Republican 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," they said.

The congressional deal comes as Biden has been facing increasing pressure by lawmakers — including from members of his own party — to ban Russian oil imports as President Vladimir Putin ramps up his attacks on Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. was discussing with its European partners the prospect of banning Russian oil.