House votes to ban sales from Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China

More than 100 Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill.

January 12, 2023, 3:02 PM

The House on Thursday passed a bill to ban sales from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China.

The legislation passed with bipartisan support in a 331-97 vote, with 113 Democrats joining Republicans in backing the measure.

Entitled the “Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act,” the bill would prohibit the sale and export of crude oil from the reserve to any entity under control of the China Communist Party.

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is “meant for true energy supply disruptions, like those caused by hurricanes and natural disasters, not to help China.”

“Draining our strategic reserves for political purposes and selling portions of it to China is a significant threat to our national security,” she said.

PHOTO: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, leaves the Speaker's office to walk to the House chamber, Jan. 6, 2023, to attend the 14th vote for speaker of the House, on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers,leaves the Speaker's office to walk to the House chamber, Jan. 6, 2023, to attend the 14th vote for speaker of the House, on Capitol Hill.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP, FILE

But Rep. Frank Pallone, the energy panel’s top Democrat, said while he does oppose exporting U.S. oil to China, the Republican measure does not properly address the issue.

“If Republicans were serious about addressing this issue, they would have brought forward a bill that banned all oil exports to China,” he said on the House floor.

“If we truly want to address China using American oil to build its reserves, let’s actually take a serious look at that, rather than skirt around the issue because Republicans are scared of Big Oil’s wrath,” Pallone said.

The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, June 9, 2016.
Richard Carson/Reuters, FILE

President Joe Biden last year announced the release of 180 million barrels from the reserve in an effort to bring down energy prices and stabilize the global market. The release sent the reserve to its lowest level since the 1980s.

The move drew criticism by some Republicans, who argued it was a "stopgap measure" that did little to combat high gas and energy prices.

The Biden administration said in December it was beginning to replenish the reserves by buying 3 million barrels of oil.

The Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act is not the only energy bill House Republicans are expected to bring to the floor now that they are in the majority.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said earlier this month that the Strategic Product Response Act was also among the GOP's priorities in the first few weeks of the new Congress.

The bill would prohibit the non-emergency drawdowns of strategic reserves without a plan to increase energy production on federal lands.

-ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

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