House Democrats unanimously rejected a Republican bill aimed at replenishing the country's strategic oil reserves after President Joe Biden released the largest amount of oil from the stockpile in U.S. history.
220 House Democrats voted to block consideration of the Strategic Production Response Act on Tuesday afternoon, with one party member not voting. The bill, which Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), Steve Scalise (R., La.), and Fred Upton (R., Mich.) unveiled in December, requires Biden's energy secretary to develop a plan to increase U.S. gas production on federal lands should the president release additional oil from the nation's reserves "for non-emergency reasons."
Democrats' refusal to bolster domestic energy production comes just weeks after Biden released 50 million barrels of oil from the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, marking the largest release in U.S. history. While those reserves are typically used for emergency reasons—then-president George W. Bush loaned 30 million barrels from the stockpile in the wake of Hurricane Katrina—Biden tapped into the supply in an attempt to curtail rising gas prices amid intense political pressure. The average price of a gallon of gas has increased by more than a dollar over the course of Biden's presidency.
Power the Future founder Daniel Turner criticized House Democrats for the vote, which he said would further "squander American energy independence."
"It's sad that we need to pass a measure to get energy workers back on the job in America. What's even more pathetic is that there are those who vote against it," Turner told the Washington Free Beacon. "Anyone who would vote against responsible energy development within our country is also voting against getting back to energy independence."
Biden, who centered his presidential campaign on fighting climate change, issued an executive order on the first day of his presidency that canceled the Keystone XL pipeline project, killing thousands of oil and gas jobs in the process. Just days later, the Democrat suspended new oil and gas drilling on federal lands, and his administration is now fighting a GOP-led lawsuit challenging the moratorium. Those policies—as well as Biden's decision to tap into the nation's oil reserves for non-emergencies—threaten America's energy security, McMorris Rodgers argued in a statement.
"The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created by Congress to respond to oil supply disruptions that may arise after a natural disaster or war. The SPR is not supposed to be tapped as a bailout for the president's anti-fossil fuel agenda, which has led to the highest gas prices in seven years," McMorris Rodgers said. "The Biden administration must end its hostility to producing energy here at home, and reverse the policies that have led to the cancellation of critical pipelines and endless permitting delays."
The White House did not return a request for comment.