FIRST ON FOX: House Republicans on Wednesday will introduce a bill to block the Biden administration from importing oil from Venezuela amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Led by Florida Republican Rep. Scott Franklin, roughly 20 GOP lawmakers are attempting to circumvent the White House as it looks for additional means to counter surging prices at pump.
Gas prices hit a record high this week and the cost per barrel of oil is expected to increase after President Biden announced a ban on Russian oil, gas and coal.
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The U.K. also said it would cut its dependence on Russian oil by the end of 2022 and the European Union said it will be make cuts to its Russian oil imports – a move made more difficult by the fact that Europe receives 40 percent of its oil needs from Moscow while the U.S. receives roughly three percent.
But as sanctions on Russian oil increase the U.S. and Europe are looking to divert their demands to other oil-leading nations – leading to a reduced supply source and increase in prices at the pump.
A delegation of U.S. officials traveled to Venezuela Saturday to engage with President Nicolás Maduro’s government – which was once a top oil exporter to the U.S.
“By engaging in talks with the Máduro regime, the Biden administration has again shown it is more interested in buying oil from ruthless dictatorships than supporting domestic production,” Franklin said in a statement to Fox News. “Removing oil sanctions on Venezuela to offset purchasing from Russia would simply be replacing support for one dictator with another.”
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It remains unclear if the Biden administration has taken any steps to loosen sanctions on Venezuela, which saw crippling fines following its illegitimate 2018 election, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested Wednesday that the U.S. may be looking to re-establish ties with Caracas.
“It’s…true that we have an interest globally in maintaining a steady supply of energy, including through our diplomatic efforts,” Blinken said in answer to questions on whether the U.S. will alleviate Maduro-sanctions.
But the idea of easing sanctions on Venezuela to supplement the global oil market has frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder,” Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez said in a statement on Monday.
“As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food,” he added.
GOP lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to increase domestic oil production instead of seeking it elsewhere.