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Topline

The House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that would ban Russian energy imports after final passage in the Senate, building on an executive order signed by President Joe Biden Tuesday and adding to a slew of retaliatory measures taken against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine late last month.

Key Facts

The house passed the measure, dubbed the Suspending Energy Imports from Russia Act, in a vote of 414 to 17, with 194 Republicans joining 220 Democrats in support, thereby teeing up a final vote in the Senate as soon as Thursday.

The 17-page bill will suspend the import of Russian oil and energy products into the U.S. beginning 45 days after the legislation is enacted but give Biden the authority to waive the ban for any products necessary for the “national interest of the United States.”

The bill also directs U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to take steps to curb Russia’s access to the World Trade Organization, including encouraging other WTO members to suspend trade concessions with Russia and moving to suspend Russia’s participation in the intergovernmental organization.

Lastly, the bill would reauthorize the Magnitsky Act to allow the U.S. to sanction any foreign person the president determines to be “complicit in serious human rights abuse;” the act was named after a Russian attorney and auditor who documented rampant tax fraud by Russian officials but died in prison in 2009 after being arrested and tortured for alleged tax evasion.

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the legislation will support Biden’s executive order, signed Tuesday, and “hold [Russian President Vladimir]

Putin accountable for his unprovoked war against Ukraine.”

The order banned imports of Russian crude oil and certain coal, liquefied natural gas and petroleum products, and also prohibited American investors and companies from investing in Russia’s energy sector.

What To Watch For

After announcing his order and impending legislation on Wednesday, Biden acknowledged the resulting impact on U.S. oil supply would push gas prices, already at record levels, even higher. “The decision today is not without cost here at home,” he said. “Since Putin began his military buildup on Ukrainian borders… the price of the gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents, and with this action, it’s going to go up further.”

Chief Critic

“The U.S., undoubtedly, declared an economic war against Russia and they are waging this war,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state-backed news agency TASS on Wednesday. “Yes, de facto this is exactly what it is.”

Key Background

The economic fallout since Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine in late February has intensified amid a growing list of sanctions targeting the Russian government, businesses and oligarchs. Most recently, the European Union agreed to tighten sanctions on Russia and Belarus, and last week, the Treasury blocked American citizens from doing business with Russia’s central bank, finance ministry or National Wealth Fund, and froze the assets of sanctioned entities in the U.S. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia said Wednesday it was suspending business in Russia, while major tobacco companies Imperial Brands, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International announced pullbacks from the country, adding to a slew of companies distancing themselves from Russia in recent days.

Further Reading

Live: U.S. Has ‘Declared Economic War,’ Russia Claims (Forbes)

WarnerMedia, Major Tobacco Brands—Here Are The Companies Cutting Ties With Russia Over Ukraine Invasion (Forbes)

Gas Prices Surge To Record High Ahead Of Russian Oil Ban—Americans Will ‘Feel The Pain’ For A While (Forbes)

Source: Forbes

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