The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday night that would ban Russian oil imports to the United States, an effort to put into law the restrictions announced by President Joe Biden in response to the escalating war in Ukraine, the AP reports. Going further than Biden's import ban on Russian oil, the bill making its way through Congress would also encourage a review of Russia's status in the World Trade Organization and signal US support for sanctions on Russian officials over human rights violations, as the US works to economically isolate the regime. Lawmakers in both parties have been eager to act, willing to risk higher gas prices at home in order to support Ukraine with a show of US bipartisanship. The legislation was approved Wednesday, 414-17, and now goes to the Senate.
The remarkable bipartisan resolve in Congress to deter Russia and help Ukraine has acted as an accelerant on the White House's own strategy, pushing the Biden administration to move more quickly than it would have—a rare example of the legislative branch muscling its way into foreign policy. Just days ago, the Biden administration was reluctant to ban Russian oil imports, worried about reducing the global energy supply and causing spikes in gas prices at a time when US households already face record-setting inflation. The legislation in many ways is symbolic, since Biden has already announced the Russian oil ban. But the legislative push sets up the next showdown over Russia’s trade status as Congress presses for restrictions on other imports from Russia that the administration has so far resisted. (Calls are growing to suspend gas taxes in the US.)