Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a bill Wednesday that would halt the Biden administration from selling oil from the United States Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China-owned companies.
More than a dozen Republicans cosponsored Cruz’s Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act bill in the Senate. It closely reflected the bill passed by House earlier this month. The House bill passed by a bipartisan landslide vote of 331-97, with 113 House Democrats voting in favor, along with Republicans.
The House vote means the legislation is possible in the Senate if Democrat leaders agree to take up the bill.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was intended to ensure that America had sufficient oil reserves in the event of the emergency,” said Cruz in a statement.
“Instead, Joe Biden sold a portion of this critical national security asset to the Chinese Communist Party when the CCP was stockpiling oil for its own strategic use, and while Americans are paying higher and higher prices for fuel because of the Biden administration’s disastrous energy policies,” said Cruz.
“We need to immediately act to stop this from happening in the future and unleash American energy,” Cruz said.
President Biden first ordered the Department of Energy to tap into the SPR in November of 2021, saying it was a “major effort to moderate the price of oil” and to further lower prices at the typical “corner gas station.” After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia last year, the president announced a 30-million-barrel release along with another 180-million-barrel release in March 2022.
Because of the administration’s action, the SPR hit its lowest level since 1986, and companies controlled by China have successfully bought two million barrels at auction, despite having one of the largest stockpiles of oil in the world.
Cruz’s legislation would ban the sale of U.S. crude oil from the SPR to any company controlled by the CCP and further prohibit the export of crude oil from the SPR to China.
House set to vote this week
According to a tweet by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the House of Representatives is prepping to vote this week on ending sales from the SPR to China.
Senator Cruz and James Lankford introduced a No Emergency Crude Oil for Foreign Adversaries Act over the summer.
“At a time of skyrocketing inflation and record gas prices, and with SPR drained to its lowest level since 1986, it is reckless and inexplicable that President Biden would allow oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be exported to China. This practice poses a direct threat to American national security, not least because the Chinese Communist Party is currently stockpiling oil for strategic use, and the Biden administration is aiding their effort,” said Senator Cruz at the time.
The bill’s current version, known as H.R. 22, “will prevent direct or indirect sales and exports from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the Chinese Communist Party and help end Biden’s abuse of our strategic reserves.”
The current process allows crude oil sales from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to businesses that make the highest offer, including American subsidiaries of foreign oil companies, which could then export the oil overseas.
Some of the SPR sales from last year went to Chinese-owned companies, including Unipec America, owned by China’s state-run oil company, Sinopec.