Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, will introduce a bill later Thursday banning the Biden administration from importing oil from Venezuela unless it takes steps to increase American energy production.
The Biden administration has reportedly considered importing oil from Venezuela and Iran in an effort to increase the gasoline supply and lower prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas prices reached an all-time high on March 11, hitting an average of $4.33 per gallon nationwide.
“The Biden administration doesn’t really talk to the Republicans on virtually anything,” Donalds told the Daily Caller during a recent interview. “The mere fact that they tried to solicit the Maduro regime is insane to me. We don’t even recognize the Maduro government. That money would go to a regime that allies with Russia.”
Donalds also expressed doubt that importing Venezuelan oil would make a major difference in U.S. energy costs, due to the inefficiencies of its central planning.
“They aren’t operating at peak production. They have a bunch of bureaucrats running the oil fields,” he said.
Read the bill here:
The Prohibit Venezuelan Oil Importation Act, co-sponsored by Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs, Texas Rep. Randy Weber, and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, would require the Biden administration to submit a study addressing the impact of its Jan. 20, 2021 executive order revoking several Trump administration rules intended to promote domestic oil production. Opponents of the order argued at the time that it would kill jobs and raise prices. (RELATED: ‘Deliberate, Intentional, And Devastating’: Experts Say Biden’s Week One Climate Actions Already Killing Jobs)
It also directs the Biden administration to conduct a study on its moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. Although several federal courts have ordered the administration to end the moratorium, it has slow-walked the leasing process.
The bill requires the Biden administration to reinstate the Keystone XL pipeline and end the leasing moratorium before it can import Venezuelan oil. The U.S. has not imported oil from the country since April 2019.
“This is about what sound energy policy would look like for the country,” Donalds added. “The right energy policies would decrease oil costs in the future. This is not purely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is due to the terrible energy policies of Joe Biden.”
“When gas prices go up, this weeds out all the other items in my constituents’ household budgets.”
Sanctions on Venezuela implemented by the Trump administration in early 2019 caused U.S. oil imports from the country to collapse from nearly 214 million barrels in 2018 to just more than 33 million barrels in 2019. American oil imports from Venezuela reached an all-time high in 1997 at more than 647 million barrels, two years before the socialist regime of Hugo Chavez came to power.
Chavez began seizing the assets of privately-owned oil companies in 2009, while giving a monopoly on drilling to the government-run Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, jailed six American executives of the oil company Citgo on corruption charges, although all six proclaim their innocents. The U.S. considers the five still-held members of the Citgo Six to be wrongfully detained.