On The Money — Biden faces pressure to ban Russian oil
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Today’s Big Deal: President Biden is mulling a ban on Russian oil and markets are bracing for the consequences. We’ll also look at the latest in government funding talks and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Let’s get to it.
Lawmakers propose Russian energy ban
The Democratic and Republican leaders of the two congressional committees covering trade policy reached a deal Monday on a bill to ban energy imports from and suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus.
- The chairmen and ranking members of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee said in a Monday statement they would soon introduce a bill to ban imports of Russian energy products.
- The bill would also give President Biden authority to boost tariffs and impose other trade barriers for goods from Russia and Belarus, require the White House to advocate for Russia’s removal from the World Trade Organization and oppose Belarus joining the organization.
“Taking these actions will send a clear message to Putin that his war is unacceptable and the United States stands firmly with our NATO allies,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Ways and Means ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Finance ranking member Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in a statement.
The background: Biden is under growing pressure from lawmakers and leaders in both parties to ban Russian energy imports and target a major source of wealth for the Kremlin.
- While Russia’s economy has already begun to crumble under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and allies, its oil and gas sector has been largely exempted from the penalties.
- American and European leaders have tried to avoid any sanctions that would cause oil and natural gas prices to spike after a year of steep increases.
- National average gas prices have reached an all-time high of just over $4.10 a gallon, according to data from the gas price analysis platform GasBuddy.
- Efforts to decimate Russia’s economy to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine could have serious and unpredictable implications at home for the U.S. and its allies.
WALL STREET WOES
Stocks plunge as rising oil, wheat prices shake market
Stocks fell sharply Monday as the economic fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine rattled investors.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 800 points Monday to close with a loss of 2.4 percent. The Nasdaq composite plunged 3.6 percent lower and the S&P 500 index closed with a loss of 3 percent.
- Companies in the finance, travel, entertainment, retail and construction industries fell sharply Monday as skyrocketing oil prices raised fears of an economic slowdown, while energy companies rallied on the prospect of higher prices.
Stocks have fallen for weeks amid rising concern about inflation and the economic blowback of the invasion of Ukraine. The Dow is down 10.3 percent, the S&P is down 12.4 percent, and the Nasdaq is down 19 percent since the start of 2022.
Sylvan has more here.
ONE MORE OFFER
Democrats make ‘global offer’ on government funding, Ukraine, COVID-19 aid
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said that Democrats had made a “global offer” as Congress tries to wrap up government funding negotiations by a Friday night deadline.
“Democrats have made a reasonable global offer to Republicans and it is my hope that we will reach an agreement very soon so that we can meet the March 11 government funding deadline,” Schumer wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter.
In addition to government funding, the massive bill is expected to include billions in new military and humanitarian assistance to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The White House is requesting $10 billion to aid Ukraine and $22.5 billion for coronavirus relief, a number Republicans are balking at.
- Congress has until the end of Friday to get a government funding bill to Biden’s desk for him to sign in order to prevent a shutdown. But the Senate will need all 100 members to get on board to speed up its passage.
The Hill’s Jordain Carney has the details here.
RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK
Fears grow that time is running out to deliver Ukraine aid
Fears are growing on Capitol Hill that the window to deliver critically needed military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine is quickly closing.
- Backed by the United States and other NATO allies, Ukrainian forces have defied all expectations, mounting a fierce resistance to the superior forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control, the skies over the country are contested, and there are signs of waning morale among Russian troops, who were apparently unaware they’d be asked to use lethal force against their fellow Slavs.
- Russian forces in response have escalated attacks on civilian targets while making gains in the south, including taking control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southwestern Enerhodar.
“It’s urgent as all hell,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “The Russians are regrouping. Now is a window to get weapons in to them so that they’re ready once the Russians have regrouped.”
The Hill’s Mike Lillis explains here.
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ON TAP THIS WEEK
- The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing entitled “The Inflation Equation: Corporate Profiteering, Supply Chain Bottlenecks, and COVID-19″ at 10 a.m.
- The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing entitled “Overview of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs” at 10 a.m.
- The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing entitled “Examining Mandatory Arbitration in Financial Service Products” at 10 a.m.
- The House Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development holds a hearing entitled “Skill, Upskill, and Reskill: Analyzing New Investments in Workforce Development” at 10 a.m.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) holds an open meeting to consider whether to propose amendments regarding cybersecurity risk management, strategy, governance, and incident disclosure at 10 a.m.
- The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce holds a hearing entitled “Changing Times: Revisiting Spring Forward, Fall Back” at 10:15 a.m.
Good to Know
Gas prices in the U.S. are at an all-time high and have topped $4 a gallon for the first time since 2008 as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate.
According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas is $4.06, which is 45 cents more than a week ago, 62 cents more than a month ago and $1.30 more than a year ago. The national average has not been this high since July 2008.
Check out the most expensive states for gas as of Monday here.
Here’s what else we have our eye on:
- Netflix has suspended its service in Russia, becoming the latest tech company to halt or restrict its offerings in Russia amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Forty-three GOP senators on Monday pushed back on President Biden’s executive order to require collective bargaining agreements between contractors and workers for federal construction projects.
- The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 6 million on Monday, marking another grim milestone as the pandemic enters its third year.
- The Biden administration announced on Monday that it is proposing a new rule that would aim to slash pollution generated by heavy-duty vehicles, including buses and trucks.
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 tomorrow.
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