House to vote Tuesday on Russian fuel ban, other trade sanctions

House lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a package of sanctions targeting Russia, including a ban on fuel and a new review of Russia’s status as part of the World Trade Organization.
The legislation will also expand an existing human rights law, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which empowers presidents to apply sanctions to those regimes that commit human rights violations — a charge facing Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegedly targeting civilians in Ukraine.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the package in a letter to Democrats, describing the legislation as a vital step in the global effort to rein in Putin amid Russia’s bloody assault on Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than a million forced to flee the country.
“Because this legislation is an urgent imperative — both morally and for our security interests — the House will consider this legislation on the Floor today,” she wrote.
Pelosi characterized the proposals as a compliment to the executive actions of President Biden, who announced his own ban on the import of Russian fuel Tuesday morning.
The quick rush to get the bill to the floor highlights the urgency lawmakers face on Capitol Hill to challenge Putin for his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which has sparked the largest ground war in Europe since World War II.
The United States and its NATO allies have ruled out the option of confronting Russian forces directly, limiting the number of punitive tools at their disposal. Thus far, Washington has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in military supplies to Ukraine’s military forces and millions more in humanitarian aid to address the increasingly dire conditions facing Ukrainian civilians.
Congress later this week is expected to vote on an additional $12 billion, divided between both military and humanitarian assistance.
The push to squeeze Putin even further follows days of intense debate over whether the United States should impose a ban on Russian fuel in an effort to get the Russian president to withdraw his forces.
Earlier rounds of sanctions had hit Russian banks, oligarchs and Putin himself but excluded oil and gas imports, which represent Russia’s single most lucrative industry. The carveout drew howls from Ukraine’s strongest supporters, some of whom accused Biden of bankrolling Putin’s war.
Fuel prices have already spiked across the globe, hitting record highs in the United States on Tuesday. These increases caused reluctance of global leaders, including Biden, to ban Russian fuels, which will likely push those costs even higher.
Republicans in Congress have slammed Biden in recent weeks, blaming the increase on his domestic energy policies.
Despite the political risk, however, a growing number of lawmakers in both parties rallied behind the Russian gas ban. And Pelosi last week took the remarkable step of breaking with the White House to join that list.
Faced with the mounting pressure, Biden complied, announcing an across-the-board ban on Russian fuel imports at U.S. ports, which he called “another blow to Putin’s war machine.”
Pelosi, meanwhile, said the crisis is yet another reason for the U.S. to diversify its energy policies and shift away from a reliance on petroleum-based fuels, particularly when those industries are controlled by volatile leaders such as Putin.
“The United States does not need to choose between defending our democratic values and protecting our economic interests,” she wrote.

Updated 1:13 p.m.

Tags Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Russia-Ukraine conflict Vladimir Putin World Trade Organization

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