The Biden administration is threatening to veto Republican-led legislation that would restrict the release of oil from the country’s emergency reserve.
“If Congress were to pass H.R. 21, the president would veto it. He will not allow the American people to suffer because of the backwards agenda that House Republicans are advancing,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters during a White House press briefing.
The legislation would require the federal government to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for new oil and gas production in order to withdraw oil from the strategic reserve. It includes an exception for “severe energy supply” interruptions.
House Republicans are slated to take up the bill this week.
The Energy secretary said on Monday that the bill would “needlessly aim to weaken the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s [SPR] usefulness as a tool to ensure energy security in America.”
She added that it “risks raising these gas prices and making it harder to offer Americans relief in the future.”
In response, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) defended the legislation, saying in a written statement that the Biden administration’s use of the oil reserve’s was an “election-year gimmick.”
“Republicans want durable, long-lasting relief at the pump. The best way to do this is by unleashing American energy, which is what H.R. 21 helps accomplish,” she said.
Last year, in response to fuel price spikes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden announced the largest-ever release of oil from the U.S.’s strategic reserve.
The move faced backlash from Republicans, who argued that it was political and used it to critique the administration’s energy policies.
In defense of its move, which it called an appropriate use of the reserve, the Biden administration has pointed to a Treasury Department analysis that found the move, in coordination with similar ones from other countries, reduced the price of gasoline by between 17 and 42 cents per gallon.
–Updated on Jan. 24 at 10:37 a.m.