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House Republicans earlier this month passed a bill to protect America’s strategic oil reserves from being sold to China, with an eye toward passing more laws to protect the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from abuse by the Biden administration. 

The House of Representatives voted 331-97 to pass H.R. 22, the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act. The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Energy from selling petroleum from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to any entity associated with the Chinese Communist Party.

All 97 ‘no’ votes came from Democrats. Zero Republicans voted against the bill.

Reuters reported in July that cargoes of oil from the SPR had been shipped abroad to China, meaning U.S. stockpiles designed to bolster America’s oil supplies during embargoes and wartime emergencies had instead been purchased by an adversarial nation.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds the passage of this legislation which will ensure U.S. oil reserves benefit Americans in times of national emergency rather than benefitting adversaries as the Biden administration seeks political cover for its anti-energy agenda.

The SPR was established by President Gerald Ford in 1975 to provide a backup supply of oil for the United States in the event of a severe emergency or embargo. However, instead of maintaining oil reserves to help the nation survive a potential future crisis, the Biden administration began draining oil from the SPR to cover up for their ill-advised energy policies which caused gas prices to skyrocket ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Since President Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, his administration has liquidated nearly 270 million barrels of oil from the SPR, or about 42 percent of total reserves. As a result, the SPR now sits at its lowest level in almost 40 years, posing a significant threat to national security if the U.S. were to face an embargo, war, or other oil-related emergency––and posing a significant cost to taxpayers once the Department of Energy eventually has to refill the SPR. 

On the other hand, the People’s Republic of China has been ramping up its own purchases of oil––including oil purchased by Chinese entities from Biden’s SPR releases––potentially giving the authoritarian state the largest stockpile in the world.

With the passage of H.R. 22, Republicans hope to rein in the Biden administration’s reckless liquidation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and prevent the U.S. oil supply from assisting the country’s number-one adversary at the expense of American taxpayers.

“The administration is not just hurting our own ability to respond to emergencies and national security events, they are actively bolstering the oil reserves of our most dangerous geopolitical adversary, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” argued Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers on the House floor prior to the bill’s passage. “This is unacceptable and it must stop.”

The Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act must next pass the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a companion bill in the Senate on Tuesday.

In addition to H.R. 22, House Republicans plan to bring another bill to the floor which would help protect the SPR from misuse: H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act, would require a proportional increase in leasing for new oil and gas production whenever the SPR’s supply is drawn down.