Facing bipartisan pressure, the White House said Friday it is considering banning Russian oil imports.
What You Need To Know
- Facing bipartisan pressure, the White House said Friday it is considering banning Russian oil imports
- But White House press secretary Jen Psaki and economic adviser Cecilia Rouse said that the Biden administration is reluctant to cut off Russian oil imports unless it first offsets the lost supply
- There is a bipartisan appetite in Congress for halting Russian oil, and on Thursday a group of lawmakers introduced a Senate bill that would block imports of Russian oil
- In 2021, the U.S. purchased around 670,000 barrels of crude oil a day on average from Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
At a news briefing, Cecilia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said: “We are looking at options that we can take right now if we were to cut the U.S. consumption of Russian energy, but what's really most important is that we maintain a steady supply of global energy.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden wants to maximize financial pain on Russian President Vladimir Putin through sanctions while minimizing the impact on U.S. consumers and global markets. She and Rouse said that the Biden administration is reluctant to cut off Russian oil imports unless it first offsets the lost supply.
“We are looking at options we could take right now to cut U.S. consumption of Russian energy, but we are very focused on minimizing the impact of families,” Psaki said. “If you reduce supply in the global marketplace, you are going to raise gas prices, you're going to the raise the price of oil, and that is something the president is very mindful of and focused on.”
Psaki said the U.S. is weighing international and domestic options, but provided few details. She did, however, say: “What we're trying to do internationally is have conversations — as we have been for weeks now — with global suppliers about meeting the needs, the supply needs in the marketplace.
“There's not a day that goes by — or maybe even an hour that goes by probably — where members of our national security team and economic team aren't communicating with their counterparts around the world about exactly this issue,” she added.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. as of Friday was $3.84, according to AAA. Aiming to blunt the already-rising prices, the Biden administration announced earlier this week it is releasing 30 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. strategic reserve and that other nations are releasing an additional 30 million barrels.
Psaki tried to stress that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the reason gas prices are soaring. But Republicans have repeatedly blamed Biden’s energy policies.
While the White House’s tone on a potential Russian oil ban seems to be shifting, if even slightly, Psaki insisted its position has not changed that it does not have a “strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.”
There is a bipartisan appetite in Congress for halting Russian oil. On Thursday, a group of lawmakers, led by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced a bill that would block imports of Russian oil.
Manchin and Murkowski said they would accept blame for a spike in gasoline prices.
“If there was a poll being taken and they said, ‘Joe, would you pay 10 cents more per gallon to support the people of Ukraine and stop the support of Russia?’ I would gladly pay 10 cents more per gallon,” Manchin said at a news conference.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also has voiced her support for pulling the plug on Russian oil.
“I’m all for that,” she said Thursday.
In an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said: “The problem is that the Biden administration is to the left of Nancy Pelosi. She agrees we should stop buying Russian oil and gas. … So this insanity coming from the White House about energy needs to stop.”
“They're not pursuing green energy … they're pursuing red energy, energy policy soaked in Ukrainian blood,” Graham added.
Psaki did not directly answer a question Friday about whether Biden would sign the Senate bill if it reaches his desk.
In 2021, the U.S. purchased around 670,000 barrels of crude oil a day on average from Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.