Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday proposed bipartisan legislation to ban Russian energy imports in response to the invasion of Ukraine, calling it a counter to Russia “weaponizing” energy.
“The United States has the ability to backfill and help all of our allies around the world as they [Russia] use this energy as a weapon,” Manchin said at a press conference Thursday. “We have to make sure that we’re doing ours [energy production]. We do it cleaner than anybody else. We do it in a better fashion anybody else. And we have the ability with a reserve to do much more during this crisis.”
Manchin also criticized White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s comments Wednesday that “we don’t have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.”
“They’re so wrong,” the West Virginia Democrat said.
Murkowski, meanwhile, called spiking gas prices “almost psychological in nature,” saying President Biden must “change course” to reassure energy markets. “He’s got to embrace American energy. He’s got to tell the public that he’s doing this,” she added.
Another co-sponsor of the measure, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also expressed support for an import ban, quipping that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “done something nobody else could do” in bringing them into alignment.
In addition to Jean-Pierre’s comments, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday that the White House remains opposed to an import ban, expressing concerns that it could further drive up prices.
“It’s as simple as less supply raises prices, and that is certainly a big factor for the president at this moment,” Psaki told reporters Thursday. “It also has the potential to pad the pockets of President Putin, which is exactly what we are not trying to do.”