President Biden and Democratic lawmakers doubled down on the importance of hostile actors boosting oil output Wednesday after a decision from a Saudi-led group to cut production.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the powerful Middle Eastern oil cartel, and its Russian counterpart announced a massive production cut of 2 million barrels of oil per day, the largest reduction since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. In response, Democrats have unleashed their fury, noting the importance of oil production from the cartel comprised of dictators and hostile actors.
“The President is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
“At a time when maintaining a global supply of energy is of paramount importance, this decision will have the most negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already reeling from elevated energy prices,” the statement continued.
The White House also announced Biden would order the Department of Energy to unleash another 10 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The president has already drained 280 million barrels from the emergency stockpile, taking it to its lowest level since 1984.
Democratic lawmakers urged Biden to turn back to Saudi Arabia and beg them again for more oil. Biden traveled to the Middle Eastern nation in July to discuss oil production.
“There still is, in my view, an opportunity to persuade the Saudis that you’re making a gigantic mistake here — and I hope the administration will be aggressive about it,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Politico. “We have an opportunity and an obligation to use the leverage available. We have agency here. And we should use it.”
“We have to stop acting like the suckers in this relationship, and reestablish that the services we provide to these countries require them to take our legitimate interests and concerns into account,” Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., told Politico. “And if they’re not willing to do that, then they should find another friend.”
And on Wednesday evening, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration was again looking to ease sanctions on Venezuela in exchange for more oil production. The White House reportedly engaged in oil negotiations with Venezuela in May.
An agreement between the U.S. and Venezuela’s government is expected by the end of October.
“Just in case you haven’t noticed, our policy of sanctioning and isolating Maduro hasn’t worked,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted Thursday. “At some point when your policy isn’t getting results, it’s malpractice to not try something else.”
However, Republicans blasted Biden and Democrats for cozying up to dictators for energy and urged increased domestic production.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Instead of pumping out clean oil from our own states, the Biden Admin is now easing sanctions on communist Venezuela to get its dirty oil,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., tweeted following the WSJ report. “This Admin continues to place America last and embolden our adversaries.”
Earlier in the day, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the top GOP member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, similarly slammed the Biden administration’s energy policies which she said have led to increased reliance on foreign oil.
“President Biden’s policies continue to drive the increases in gas prices that Americans will see after this production cut,” she said in a statement. “His war on American energy has allowed OPEC and Russia to regain control of the global oil market.”
“Instead of flipping the switch for more American energy production and making us energy independent again, his administration has repeatedly chosen to beg authoritarian regimes, release strategic reserves for political expediency, and surrender our energy leadership for a rush-to-green agenda,” she added.
Meanwhile, the average price of gasoline nationwide increased to $3.87 a gallon on Thursday. Prices have been on the rise since mid-September and analysts have warned that consumers shouldn’t expect relief anytime soon.