While Joe Biden has so far said they were off the table, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that she is in favor of banning all Russian oil imports, despite the additional pain at the pump that would inflict on average Americans.
“I’m all for that. Ban it,” Pelosi said at a recent press conference at the Capitol.
Bipartisan members of Congress have been pushing legislation to ban oil imports from Russia, and Republicans, especially, have been calling for increased domestic oil and gas production in the wake of Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine.
“In the United States of America, we are importing Russian energy,” Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week. “This needs to stop. We are funding Putin’s war machine.”
According to the most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration in December, the US imported 405,000 barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia, or almost 5% of all US imports for the month. That’s down from about 800,000 barrels in August but still represents a significant amount of income for Putin.
While joining with Republicans in supporting a Russian oil ban, Pelosi didn’t agree with reopening federal land to oil and gas drilling – which President Biden sought to ban at the start of his presidency.
“I’m not for drilling on public lands,” Pelosi said.
As gas prices skyrocket across the country, Pelosi said the price of oil “is directly related” to what is happening in Ukraine. Still, she downplayed the pain at the pump in comparison to the war Ukrainians are enduring.
“I heard a parliamentarian from Ukraine today saying, ‘Our people are being killed, our country’s being overrun, and people are complaining about paying a little more for the price of gas.’ Well, we don’t want people to have to pay a little more for the price of gas,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi also expressed caution at an effort to implement a gas tax holiday – a break from the 18.3 cents per gallon federal tax – saying that legislation would need to have language to guarantee the savings would be passed down to consumers and not hoarded by the oil companies for more profit.
“That would be a path that we can take,” Pelosi said of the gas tax holiday.
Meanwhile, in a story unrelated to her stance on Ukraine, Speaker Pelosi has publicly disclosed a batch of stock trades made by her husband in January. According to the disclosure, Paul Pelosi’s new investments include $2.9 million in Apple, Walt Disney, PayPal, and Amex shares.
A House panel is due to debate a congressional stock trading ban that could include lawmakers’ spouses.