On The Money — Lawmakers rally against Russian oil imports
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Today’s Big Deal: Lawmakers in both parties are calling on the U.S. to spurn Russian energy imports despite the potential domestic cost. We’ll also look at more businesses leaving Russia and infighting among Republicans about a controversial tax plan.
But first, your guide to President Biden’s State of the Union address.
Let’s get to it.
Bipartisan push to end Russian oil imports
A bipartisan push for the U.S. to stop importing oil from Russia is gaining steam with the introduction of two bills amid Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.
- On Tuesday, a group of nine Republicans put forward legislation seeking to ban imports of Russian oil, as did Green New Deal champion Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
- While both were in agreement that the U.S. should stop bringing in Russian oil, Republicans are pushing for increased U.S. drilling while Markey is advocating a switch to clean energy.
- Both the Markey bill and the separate Republican version, led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), would make it illegal to import oil from Russia.
The risks: The Biden administration may be hesitant to restrict oil imports since fuel prices — particularly at the gasoline pump — have been a politically sensitive issue.
It’s not clear whether the Biden administration will ultimately take action to cut off U.S. imports of oil, with the president saying last week that sanctions against Russia were “designed to allow energy payments to continue.”
The Hill’s Rachel Frazin has more here.
- US, allies to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves
- Nord Stream 2 pipeline operator lays off employees following sanctions
Visa, Mastercard blocking Russian banks from networks
Multiple Russian financial institutions are being blocked from the networks of Mastercard and Visa after governments around the world announced sanctions following Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.
The sanctions have targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s foreign minister, certain Russian banks from the SWIFT international banking system, Russian elites and their families, sovereign debt, and a host of financial institutions, among others.
Read more from The Hill’s Caroline Vakil.
Dig deeper: Here are the private companies that have made moves against Russia
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McConnell takes aim at fellow GOP Sen. Scott’s plan
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) distanced himself Tuesday from an agenda released by Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), who chairs the Senate GOP campaign arm.
McConnell, speaking at a weekly leadership press conference, was asked about Scott’s proposal. Scott was at the press conference but left after he spoke and as McConnell got the question about him.
The background: Scott released his 11-point plan last week, saying that it wasn’t meant to represent the NRSC or the Senate GOP conference more broadly.
- One of the proposals called for all Americans to pay taxes, even a small amount. Scott clarified that it wouldn’t apply to seniors or those who aren’t “able-bodied.”
- The plan has sparked pushback from Democrats and Republicans, dominating a closed-door GOP leadership meeting on Monday night, sources confirmed to The Hill.
“We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda,” McConnell said.
Here’s more from The Hill’s Jordain Carney.
U.S. retailer Target has announced it will adopt a minimum wage system that will pay company employees up to $24 an hour.
In a statement on Monday, the Minneapolis-based retailer said that the new minimum wage will range from $15 to $24, depending on the job and local market.
The system is also part of Target’s plan to spend an additional $300 million on its labor force, which includes expanded access to health care coverage and an enhanced benefits package for employees.
Some of Target’s rivals, including Walmart and Costco, have raised their hourly minimum wages for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hill’s Olafimihan Oshin has it all here.
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Good to Know
The MLB and its player union, Major League Baseball Players Association, failed to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), resulting in the cancellation of the league’s opening day and some regular-season games, ESPN reported.
In a news conference on Tuesday, league commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters the players union rejected the final CBA offer owners presented to them.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
- Labor, consumer groups urge FTC to scrutinize Microsoft/Activision-Blizzard merger
- Apple halts product sales in Russia
- Study suggests bundling bitcoin trades with carbon offsets
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Wednesday.