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Republican Leaders Furious Over Reports That Biden Admin Is Seeking To Import Oil From Venezuela

Republican leaders and conservative commentators castigated the Biden administration after reports that the administration was seeking to buy oil from Venezuela in order to fill gaps in the energy supply caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The New York Times reported Saturday that senior U.S. government officials were traveling to Venezuela to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in an effort to pry the country away from its relationship with Russia. The U.S. had cut off diplomatic efforts with Venezuela during the Trump administration, closing the embassy in Caracas in 2019. The U.S. then imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry and many of the country’s senior government officials, and recognized opposition party leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president.

Maduro responded to sanctions by turning to Russia, Iran, and China for economic and diplomatic aid. Russian financial institutions have helped Venezuela to continue its oil exports despite U.S. sanctions, the NYT reported. But the country has reportedly distanced itself from Russia since the invasion, and individuals involved in previous negotiations, as well as Maduro himself, have expressed interest in revitalizing exports to the U.S. “Here lies the oil of Venezuela, which is available for whomever wants to produce and buy it, be it an investor from Asia, Europe or the United States,” he said in a speech Thursday, via NYT.

The Wall Street Journal and CBS News concurred with the New York Times’ reporting. The Wall Street Journal also reported Thursday that Venezuela had reached out to major Wall Street firms to push the Biden administration to reopen diplomatic talks and lift oil sanctions.

Republican leaders in Congress, congressional candidates, and conservative commentators reacted to the NYT report, issuing blistering criticisms of the Biden administration for repeatedly looking to use imported oil to fill supply gaps instead of reinvigorating domestic oil production.

“Joe Biden using #Russia as an excuse to do the deal they always wanted to do anyway with the #MaduroRegime,” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio commented. “Rather than produce more American oil he wants to replace the oil we buy from one murderous dictator with oil from another murderous dictator.”

“[Shaking my head]. Can we focus on domestic energy development already?” Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie tweeted.

“Why is Joe Biden more interested in getting oil from Russia, Iran, and Venezuela than the United States?” wrote Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

“Rather than making America energy independent, Biden wants to buy oil from Maduro — yet another murderous thug,” said Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “Troubling pattern from this administration as they continue to embolden our enemies.”

“Joe Biden would rather purchase oil from Venezuela and Iran than Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Carla Sands wrote.

“The insane, pointless Iran and Venezuela outreach is ‘never let a crisis go to waste,’” national security analyst David Reaboi noted. “It’s been on the Left’s wishlist for a long time and it’s a repudiation of our regional allies. This is what you do when you want to make sure every country hates America as much as you do.”

“Biden’s solution to our oil problems? Send more American tax dollars to dictators…just different ones,” said lawyer Jenna Ellis.

Other responses are below:

Congressional Republicans have been pleading with the Biden administration for days to revamp U.S. oil production as oil prices rocket above $100 per barrel, and gas prices for U.S. consumers cross the $4 per gallon threshold and continue to soar to near-record highs. Senator Josh Hawley and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert issued calls in the immediate wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the U.S. to reestablish American energy independence, and Republican leaders like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and numerous others have since joined in calling for the administration to ramp up production. But to date, Biden has restricted domestic production, and the administration and many Congressional Democrats have only called for more production from countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

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