WASHINGTON — In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to enshrine in law a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil and energy products that President Joe Biden imposed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
The legislation, which passed 414 to 17 votes, is now heading to the Senate, which has not indicated when it will consider the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., said leaders would want to consult with the Biden administration first.
The House’s approval of the measure came the day after Biden announced he would sign an order banning imports of all Russian energy products as part of the latest effort to tighten sanctions against the invasion. Biden said he made the decision in consultation with European allies, but added they may not be able to join the United States in banning Russian energy imports.
“America is standing up to bullies like (Vladimir) Putin who think they can invade an empire and blackmail the world with their oil,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. vote.
The White House initially resisted lawmakers’ demands to ban imports of Russian oil, citing fears that such a move would further increase gasoline prices and other energy costs for American consumers. In his announcement, Biden warned that the decision to ban imports would be felt at home.
But, “when the history of this war is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have weakened Russia and strengthened the rest of the world,” Biden said.
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In addition to banning the import of energy products from Russia, the House bill also directs the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to work to have the World Trade Organization suspend Russia’s membership. Restrictions shutting down preferential trade networks could mean higher prices for Russian businesses and consumers.
The measure would allow the United States to impose additional sanctions against Russia also through a law known as the Magnitsky Act. The law, passed in 2012 and expanded in 2016, authorizes the US government to impose sanctions on perpetrators of human rights abuses, freeze their assets and bar them from entering the country.
The bill would further strengthen the law so that the United States can punish Russia for its attacks on Ukrainian civilians and for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
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