WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar opposed a bill banning Russian oil and energy imports to the United States amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. House passed the bill on a 414-17 bipartisan vote late Wednesday, with every other member of Minnesota's House delegation supporting the ban. The vote came after President Joe Biden took action of his own on the issue earlier in the week.
"The President clearly already has the authority to take this step — evident in that President Biden announced just such a ban yesterday," Omar said in a statement Wednesday night. "But putting the specifics into statute with no sunset and no conditions for lifting the ban creates a dangerous scenario, one in which we are taking today's policy question and making it tomorrow's political question."
Minnesota Republicans backed the Russian oil ban despite partisan differences over what America's energy future should look like during the battle against climate change.
"Every American dollar spent on Russian oil can be used to fund the Kremlin's unwarranted aggression towards Ukraine," GOP Rep. Tom Emmer said in a statement. "Ceasing to import Russian oil is an important first step, but unless we move toward strengthening our domestic energy and mineral supply here in the United States, we will remain dependent on foreign dictators for our vital resources."
Democratic representatives Betty McCollum, Angie Craig and Dean Phillips also voted for the ban. The only other House Democrat to join Omar in opposition was Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri. Before the vote, Craig said in an interview that the United States shouldn't fund Russia's war against Ukraine.
"I also think that we have to remain energy independent, so if that means in the short term we have to increase our domestic production or encourage private companies to do that, then that's what we need to do," said Craig. "But at the end of the day, we've got to accelerate our transition to renewable energy."
While energy issues tend to be divisive in Congress, Wednesday's vote reflected a sense of bipartisanship even as gas prices are on the rise.
"There is no reason to use Russian oil when America has an abundance of its own," Republican Rep. Pete Stauber said in a statement.
The Russian oil vote was another instance where Omar has broken from most other House Democrats. She bucked many in her party last year on legislation focused on U.S. Capitol security, infrastructure and Israel's Iron Dome defense system.
In the statement about her decision this week, Omar said "dependence on oil means a dependence on tyrants."
"I am also gravely concerned that this ban will mean ramping up domestic production," Omar said. "We must move to a green economy for this and many reasons."
Also late Wednesday, the House passed a $1.5 trillion government funding package that includes $13.6 billion for Ukraine and allies. Lawmakers took two votes, one focused on defense and security.
Omar was the only Minnesota House member to vote no on the defense portion. She joined the state's three other Democrats in the chamber in backing the separate vote on spending for other areas, while Minnesota's trio of House Republicans voted no.