Analysis: A strange-bedfellows coalition of Republicans and climate-conscious Democrats pressured the president to take an action that could hurt his party.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden didn’t race to ban Russian oil. He was pushed into it by an unusual alliance of Republicans and climate-conscious liberals.
Of course, supporters of the embargo uniformly cite the defense of innocent Ukrainians as their top priority. But that’s not the whole story.
Once divided over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Republicans have found unity in demanding an oil ban that is perceived as a hawkish response to autocratic Russian President Vladimir Putin — and which will inevitably lead to higher gas prices that give them more political ammunition.
For liberals, banning Russian oil — banning any oil — is a step toward reducing global dependence on fossil fuels and the power of petro-state leaders, while higher gas prices create an incentive for consumers to buy electric vehicles.
“This is a critical moment for the climate movement,” said Marcella Mulholland, political director of the liberal group Data for Progress. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provided a clear reminder of the need to free the global economy from oil and gas controlled by dictators like Putin.”
These complementary goals brought together a strange-bedfellows coalition of lawmakers, from the political right and the political left, that began drafting legislation to ban Russian oil imports last week. They are also largely united — for similar reasons — in their opposition to seeking more oil from Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia.