Hoyer: House eying vote this week to ban Russian oil imports

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Friday, November 19, 2021 after the Build Back Act vote.
Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday that Democratic leaders could stage a vote within days on legislation to ban oil imports from Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine has sparked a global backlash.

“I think we could see it on the floor this week,” he told reporters in the Capitol.

Negotiators in both chambers announced earlier Monday that they’ve reached an agreement on a proposal to apply a series of new trade restrictions on both Russia and Belarus, including a ban on Russian fuel imports.

As recently as last week, President Biden was opposed to such a ban, with the White House concerned about its effect on domestic gas prices, which are already soaring as part of a larger inflationary trend. Yet the administration has softened that position since then, and there’s growing pressure from Capitol Hill — including from close allies such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — for the president to get on board.

Hoyer’s timeline to vote on the oil ban is actually even shorter than it sounds because House Democrats are leaving Washington on Wednesday for a three-day retreat in Philadelphia.

Additionally, lawmakers in both chambers are scrambling to seal a deal on a much larger government spending package, to which Democrats want to attach two major provisions: at least $10 billion in new aid to Ukraine and roughly twice that much to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A failure of Congress to act would lead to large portions of the federal government shutting down at the end of the day on Friday.

Hoyer said he expects the full package to be formally introduced on Tuesday, with the Rules Committee meeting the same day to send it to the floor. The vote, Hoyer added, can be “no later than Wednesday” because of the Democrats’ retreat.

With little time left, some lawmakers have suggested that Congress may have to pass another short-term funding patch, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, to prevent a shutdown on Friday. Hoyer said negotiators are racing to avoid that scenario.

“I certainly hope there’s no need for a CR,” he said.

Tags Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer
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