WASHINGTON D.C.: The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that limits the ability of US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without drafting plans to increase the area of public land available for oil and gas exploration.
Representatives backed the bill 221 to 205, with only one Democrat supporting it.
However, the bill, known as the Strategic Production Response Act, is expected to face an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House said that President Joe Biden would veto it, should it pass Congress.
H.R.21 requires Granholm to draft a plan to increase oil and gas leasing on federal lands before tapping the SPRl, though but it cannot stop the president from tapping the reserve during emergencies.
According to the bill's Republican backers, the Biden administration sold 180 million barrels from the reserve last year, or 1 million barrels a day for six months, which left the SPR at its lowest level since 1983.
Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the reserves should be used only to address true emergencies.
"President Biden has turned a longtime bipartisan strategic asset, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, into a political tool to cover up the consequences of his expensive rush-to-green agenda," she said.
The Biden administration stressed that it sold the oil to counter the rise in gasoline prices to $5.00 a gallon, which helped cause the highest US inflation levels in decades.
In 2022, oil prices rose after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
This week, Granholm told reporters that Biden "will not allow the American people to suffer because of the backwards agenda that House Republicans are advancing."