(LEX 18) — Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr is proposing legislation that would close a loophole in recently announced U.S. sanctions against Russia to limit transactions with Russian oil and gas producers.
President Biden announced a series of economic sanctions — backed by dozens of other countries — in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions include blocking assets of large Russian banks, imposing export controls, and sanctioning Russian oligarchs who have funds outside of the country.
But, an executive order by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control permits transactions related to energy. Rep. Barr's proposal, titled "No Energy Revenues for Russian Hostilities Act of 2022," would end this exemption.
"The Biden Administration's anti-American energy agenda has made the United States dangerously dependent on foreign sources of energy, resulting in a 28% increase in Russian oil imports since Biden became President," said Congressman Barr. "This, in turn, has enabled and financed Putin's brutal war in Ukraine and will continue to do so unless we take action to close the energy loophole in our sanctions against Russia."
Congressman Barr says the legislation would "strike a blow to the heart of the Russian economy" as the war in Ukraine continues.
The proposal would allow President Biden to reinstate the exemption for Russian energy purchases, but only if the funds are used for humanitarian purposes, such as medicine or agricultural products.
The Biden Administration did not rule it out sanctioning Russian oil on Wednesday but said doing so would not be the best "strategic interest" for the United States.
Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters the sanctions would raise gas prices for Americans, something the White House says they're "very aware of."
Jean-Pierre said the administration is focusing more on impacting Russia's energy status over time.
President Biden said "nothing is off the table" when asked about sanctioning Russian oil exports.