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Today’s Big Deal: Lawmakers clash with the White House over their efforts to block Russian oil imports into the United States.
But first, is Jon Stewart planning to run for office?
White House cancels import ban talks
The White House on Thursday reversed talk of banning Russian oil imports, warning it could drive up the already high price of gas for Americans after the president Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense & National Security – US Tries To Turn The Dial On Russia House Passes Resolution Supporting Ukraine; Three Republicans vote ‘no’ Pelosi says Ukraine aid deal is imminent (D-California) supported the idea.
“Our goal and the president’s goal has been to maximize the impact on President Putin and Russia while minimizing the impact on us and our allies and partners,” the press secretary said. Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden urges GOP to end blockade of her Fed picks Overnight Energy & Environment – U.S. releases 30 million barrels of oil reserve Bipartisan calls grow for end to Russian oil imports MORE said during a press briefing with reporters.
“We do not have a strategic interest in reducing global energy supply and that would increase prices at the pumps for the American people around the world because it would reduce available supply,” she continued. “He also has the potential to line President Putin’s pockets, which is exactly what we’re not trying to do.”
Yet any type of export ban would significantly increase gas prices. The White House is worried about pushing gas prices higher, which has hurt Biden’s endorsement and Democrats’ medium-term chances.
Psaki added that the Biden administration had taken steps to try to “degrade Russia’s status as an energy supplier over time” by sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and bringing liquefied natural gas to some parts of Europe.
Brett Samuels of The Hill has more on the White House’s position here.
FIGHT AGAINST INFLATION
Powell: ‘Overheated’ labor market can withstand rate hikes
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome PowellJerome PowellOn the money – Manchin makes counter offer to Biden’s big bill Powell lays out cautious plan to raise interest rates and tackle high inflation expressed confidence on Thursday that the central bank would be able to raise interest rates to fight inflation without derailing a historically strong labor market.
- During testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell acknowledged that the Fed misjudged how long inflation would last, but said the bank could still reduce it without upsetting job gains.
- Powell’s comments come about two weeks before the Fed is expected to raise interest rates at the end of its monetary policy meeting on March 15-16.
Powell called the labor market ‘overheated’, pointing to a record ratio of job openings for the unemployed and a historic rate of workers leaving their current jobs for those with better pay, better working conditions or opportunities.
“We have substantial excess demand,” Powell said, referring to steady growth in consumer spending above pre-pandemic levels, even as prices rose 7.5% a year in January. , according to data from the Labor Department.
“There is a lot we could do to gradually bring demand back to where demand and supply are more in sync and without risking damage,” he said.
Sylvan has more here.
Here are the Russians sanctioned by the USA
After a week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House continues to add names of Russian oligarchs to Russia’s sanctions list.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that more sanctions against Russians would be implemented because of the invasion, highlighting how the administration selects who to sanction.
“One of the main factors is, of course, the closeness to President Putin. We want him to feel the pressure. We want the people around him to feel the pressure,” Psaki said.
The United States has prosecuted Russian politicians, wealthy individuals and their families in an effort to deter Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. With latest announcements, at least 26 Russians, excluding family members, have been sanctioned by the United States
The Hill’s Lexi Lonas breaks down the full list of those sanctioned.
Key Democrat says negotiators are making ‘progress’ in border wall talks
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyUkrainian forces need more weapons, senators’ ambassador warns. (D-Conn.) said on Thursday that negotiators had made progress in funding the country’s border wall talks, as lawmakers worked quickly to resolve sticking points in spending talks ahead of a deadline. closing next week.
Murphy, whose panel handles appropriations for barrier funds, told reporters on Thursday afternoon that funding for the wall remains “one of the outstanding issues” that negotiators continue to iron out as they seek to complete work on a sprawling spending omnibus package for fiscal year 2022 by a March .11 deadline.
“We have made progress in the last 24 hours. We’ve been stuck for a little while, but we’ve been trading constructive paper over the past 24 hours…Hopefully we won’t be the sticking point,” Murphy said.
- Last year, Democrats announced plans to rescind nearly $2 billion in funding for the border wall that was previously allocated by Congress.
- Democrats have been pushing for funds to be reallocated to border security technology, including IT modernization efforts, increased train capacity for Customs and Border Protection personnel and efforts to environmental mitigation.
Aris details the budget debate here.
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Good to know
The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday Advanced President BidenJoe BidenBiden hails UN vote: ‘Lays bare Putin’s isolation’ Defense and national security overnight – US tries to turn the dial on Russia Johns Hopkins doctor says children must get vaccinated against COVID-19 PLUSthe nominees to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission in two equal votes distributed according to the parties.
Senator Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.) returned to the Senate ahead of the vote, after about a month away while recovering from a stroke, giving Democrats the votes they needed to advance long-delayed candidates .
Here’s what else we’ve got our eyes on:
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you on Friday.