WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Republicans support President Joe Biden's decision not to allow Russian oil imports into the U.S. This highly anticipated move could continue to drive gas prices to record levels.
However, GOP leaders are also eager to regain the House and Senate in this fall's election. They blame Biden and his energy policy for Americans paying more at their pumps.
Republicans claim Biden could have it both way: sanction Russian oil and allow a rampant rise in domestic production. This is what they say Biden isn’t doing to promote liberal environment goals.
Oil production is not a simple thing to turn on. The domestic market has been suppressed by federal regulations as well as an international market which depressed oil prices and rendered drilling unprofitable. Democrats point out the thousands of wells approved, but not being drilled.
These attacks are a reminder of the fragile political position facing Democrats as they attempt to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin over his war in Ukraine. They also have to contend with rising inflation, gas prices, and protect their fragile majority in Congress.
"What I've stated is: 'Stop buying crude oil from Russia, but get it from America.' Biden will only say half of the story but won't tell the rest. What is he against American energy? House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisianan who hails originally from Louisiana, said to NBC News. He's trying to point out everyone else in the globe when all we need is right at our feet.
Rep. Tom Emmer is the House Republicans' campaign chief for the 2022 election cycle. He made it clear that rising gas prices and energy costs would be a major campaign issue as his party attempts to flip a few seats and regain control of the lower chamber.
They own it, they are the ones responsible for this. Emmer stated in an interview that they were responsible for shutting it down, regardless of whether it was drilling on federal lands or freezing permits a few weeks ago, and killing the Keystone XL Pipeline. They are responsible for this as they are for inflation.
Biden stated Tuesday that it is "simply false" that his policies are reducing domestic energy production. He noted that U.S. companies have "pumped more oil" than their predecessors in his first year, and that the U.S. has "record levels" of oil and natural gas production.
He said that oil and natural gas companies own millions of acres and 9,000 permits approved for drilling.
"The decision taken today will have a significant impact on our country. Biden stated that Putin's war already has an impact on the gas pumps of Americans. It's only going to get worse with this new action. I will do my best to reduce Putin's price rise here at home.
He said, "It's not a time for profiteering or price-gouging."
Interviews with Democratic lawmakers revealed that they are preparing for bad faith finger-pointing over gas prices in the lead up to the 2022 election.
"I have no doubt Republicans will cheerlead the ban and then spend most of the year blaming the Biden White House over an increase in gas prices," said Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn. "I think we need to be open to the possibility that Republicans won't get the administration's back about the consequences of Russia and Ukraine energy policy."
Rising gas prices are a financial strain on ordinary Americans, who tend to ignore partisan politics and blame the White House for economic problems.
Rep. Mikie sherrill (D-N.J.), who is up for a difficult re-election, stated Tuesday that the U.S. must both "stand up against Putin" and fight to "to address affordability at home."
She stated, "That's why we must end all Russian oil imports. I am calling for a gas tax holiday in order to lower prices at the pump."
The Republicans are likely to make their case to the voters.
"I cannot tell you what Republicans are going to do," said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who is up for re-election in the fall. "I can assure you that my attention is solely on Nevada and the issues people are facing in Nevada right now."
Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic consultant, stated that everyone agrees on the medication but Republicans want Biden to be blamed for side effects. He also said that Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to Democrats' plans to invest domestically in renewable energy as part of a climate and spending package.
"These are the same Republicans that voted against American-made clean energy -- the kind of clean energy which would eliminate our dependence on big oil companies or tyrants such as Putin."
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Whip, stated that Republicans will be held responsible for the higher gas prices due to Russia's import ban.
He said, "They'll be using any tool in their toolbox."
Durbin stated that the policy was still necessary.
He said, "You wouldn't be on that telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as I was Saturday morning and realize that that man is risking my life for this cause and say to American citizens, we can't accept any increase in gasoline prices at the pumps as a cost in our participation in that." We must stand with them and admit that this may cause some hardship.
The Republican National Committee blasted high gas prices and "pain in the pump" shortly after Tuesday's announcement, accusing Biden that he tried to "stifle" American oil.
The former President Donald Trump made a short statement Tuesday morning. It read: "BREAKING NEWS - HIGHEST GAS PRICES IN HISTORY!" DID YOU MISS ME?
Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), House Democratic Caucus Chair, urged Republicans to not "provide any assistance and comfort to Putin by shifting blame for higher gas prices.
He said, "We know they practice it because Donald Trump did so for four years which may explain some brazenness we see right now in Eastern Europe."
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. was the Democratic presidential runner-up 2016 and 2020. He suggested that Congress pair a Russian import ban and a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies. This is because the highly profitable corporations are using the chaos and confusion of war to "rip off the American consumer."
He suggested that Congress should invest more in clean energy.
Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said that the Republicans must lift the oil import ban, even though Republicans will "absolutely” try to blame Democrats.
He stated, "If we are going to have any effect, more than we have already had on Russia,"