There’s now momentum in both parties to impose an embargo, but the White House warns a blockade could “raise prices at the gas pump for Americans.”
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden faces growing calls from fellow Democrats to ban imports of Russian oil as lawmakers desperately try to find a way to stop President Vladimir Putin’s bloody war in Ukraine.
“It is so obviously apparent that we need to cut it off. I wonder if there’s a reason we haven’t [and] what the hell the reason is,” moderate Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., told NBC News on Wednesday.
Another centrist, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters: “We should stop buying over 600,000 barrels [of Russian oil] a day in America. Can you believe that? No one knew that. No one paid attention to it. And that has to stop.”
Manchin, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is teaming up with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and other Republicans on legislation that would block the U.S. government and U.S. companies from importing any Russian crude oil or petroleum, according to a one-page draft obtained by NBC News.
Manchin and Murkowski are still finalizing the language and locking down co-sponsors, aides said. Several senators signaled that they are interested in backing the measure.
“We have to consider additional sanctions” on Russia’s oil and gas industry, said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., adding that the Manchin-Murkowski bill is something he is taking under consideration.
Meanwhile, progressive Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a leading champion of the Green New Deal, rolled out his own legislation — the Severing Putin’s Immense Gains from Oil Transfers (SPIGOT) Act — which would block imports of Russian oil and petroleum products and develop a strategy to prioritize clean energy alternatives.