Speaker John A. Boehner ripped years of President Barack Obama's policies for failing to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to encroach into Ukraine.
"The steps that had not been taken over the last three or four years by the president allowed Putin to believe that he could do what he's doing without any reaction from us," Boehner said Wednesday morning.
The Ohio Republican said his conference and Democrats were "trying to work with the president to strengthen his hand." He cited legislation on a "bailout package" for Ukraine, which would loan money to the embattled country, and the possibility of another bill that would impose sanctions on Russia.
But Boehner said what the president could do today is expand U.S. energy exports. Over the last three years, Boehner said, Obama hasn't approved a number of oil and gas facilities.
"There are 24 applications sitting down at the Department of Energy," Boehner said.
"If the president wanted to strengthen his hand, and help protect our allies, he'd pick up his phone and use his pen and have the Energy Department approve these applications for these energy exports," he said.
The speaker cited a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation three years ago where he predicted what the United States could expect out of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"And we're seeing exactly that," Boehner said.
"What gives him his leverage over Eastern Europe and Europe is the fact that they export a lot of their oil and gas to those countries. And we're dependent on them," Boehner said.
The House could vote on the Ukraine loan bill as early as this week, while the Russian sanctions bill is expected to be marked up on Thursday at House Foreign Affairs.