Is Biden in over his head?
Tuesday marked a significant step in the U.S.’s pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to roll back his wartime ambitions. President Joe Biden’s announcement to ban Russian natural gas and oil comes as the Russia-Ukraine conflict enters its 13th day, and bipartisan calls for the President to act become louder.
This is a significant pivot from the correspondence released by the White House just a few days ago, revealing fears that an import ban would put significant pressure on American households as gas prices skyrocket.
Officials had also been eager to announce a ban alongside European partners and allies but were adjusting that outlook as bipartisan interest in ridding the U.S. of Russian oil imports has increased significantly among lawmakers, possibly leading Biden to announce the ban sooner to avoid fighting in Congress among his party and Republicans.
Biden’s administration’s interest in banning Russian oil imports is partly motivated by a desire to avoid lengthy debates about bipartisan oil-ban legislation, which may include provisions that would restrict the administration’s diplomatic recourse.
Biden’s announcement of the ban also allows the President to avoid the embarrassment of having lawmakers appear on Putin than the President has been on the nation’s leadership.
Eluding to the Tuesday morning announcement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) revealed he had spoken to Biden’s administration officials about preventing Russian oil imports. “They’re looking closely at it,” Schumer stated.
Manchin has also thrown his views into the arguments, saying, ” love for President Biden to do it on his own. I think he’s looking at it very seriously,” before adding that a ban on Russian oil “needs to happen.”
But, Biden’s Tuesday decision to ban Russian oil imports is a shift from previous sentiments, considering the White House feared the ban would trigger a recession while consumers battle the highest inflation in four decades.
Bipartisan backing seems to have turned the tide on the official stance, giving Biden more freedom to announce additional bans and sanctions to inflict even greater punishment on the Kremlin.