Pallone Asserts GOP Missed Opportunity for Bipartisan Support of First Energy Bill
WASHINGTON — House Republicans are expected to approve a measure Thursday that would prohibit sales of oil from the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve to the People’s Republic of China.
But Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said this morning that his GOP colleagues are foregoing bipartisanship and the opportunity to pass truly meaningful energy legislation simply to score some low-hanging political points.
The measure before the chamber, H.R. 22, also known as the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, would specifically bar the Department of Energy from selling oil from the reserve to any entity owned, controlled or influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.
It is one of several bills that under the new Republican rules package can advance directly to the House floor without committee consideration.
The goal of the legislation is to both stymie China’s global ambitions and to rein in the Biden administration’s use of the oil reserves, something Republicans have argued was driven more by the White House’s desire to improve Democrats’ chances in the midterms than sound policy.
But sound policy is exactly what the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act isn’t, said Pallone in remarks delivered on the House floor.
In fact, it’s less restrictive than earlier bills proposed by Republicans in both chambers, and Democrats in the House in the past year, he said.
For instance, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., along with Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., last year proposed a bill that would prohibit all oil sales to China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions.
“If Republicans were serious about addressing this issue, they would have brought forward a bill that banned all oil exports to China,” Pallone said, noting that the number of barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve sold to Chinese firms represented only 2% of all the oil we sent to China last year.
“If we truly want to address China using American oil to build its reserves, let’s actually take a serious look at that, rather than skirt around the issue because Republicans are scared of Big Oil’s wrath,” he said.
Referring to the bill proposed by Houlahan and Bacon, Pallone noted that it had 37 bipartisan cosponsors, including 13 Republicans.
Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and John Kennedy, R-La.
“Are my Republican colleagues okay with exporting oil to Putin’s Russia in the midst of a war on Ukraine?” he asked.
Houlahan also expressed frustration earlier this week that the Republican bill is far less restrictive than prohibitions that were on the table during the last congress.
“I remain ready to work in good faith with my colleagues across the aisle to strengthen this legislation and thus our national security. Ultimately, policy must take precedence over politics if we want to best serve the American people — that’s my goal,” Houlahan said in a statement.
“It speaks volumes that this is their first energy priority after regaining the House majority,” Pallone said, adding that the bill “could have been improved through bipartisan cooperation, regular order and committee consideration.
“If Republicans hope to actually enact legislation, this is not a pathway to success,” he cautioned.