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.”
Rather than produce more American oil he wants to replace the oil we buy from one murderous dictator with oil from another murderous dictatorhttps://t.co/HA7X71r2Mn
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 6, 2022
“[Shaking my head]. Can we focus on domestic energy development already?” Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie tweeted.
SMH. Can we focus on domestic energy development already?https://t.co/EMTdaf0TML
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 6, 2022
“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.
Why is Joe Biden more interested in getting oil from Russia, Iran, and Venezuela than the United States?
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 6, 2022
“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.”
Rather than making America energy independent, Biden wants to buy oil from Maduro — yet another murderous thug. Troubling pattern from this administration as they continue to embolden our enemies. https://t.co/dEfp4PqGSr
— Jeanette Nuñez (@LtGovNunez) March 6, 2022
“Joe Biden would rather purchase oil from Venezuela and Iran than Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Carla Sands wrote.
Joe Biden would rather purchase oil from Venezuela and Iran than Pennsylvania.
— Carla Sands (@CarlaHSands) March 6, 2022
“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.”
The insane, pointless Iran and Venezuela outreach is “never let a crisis go to waste.”
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.
— David Reaboi, Late Republic Nonsense (@davereaboi) March 6, 2022
“Biden’s solution to our oil problems? Send more American tax dollars to dictators…just different ones,” said lawyer Jenna Ellis.
Biden’s solution to our oil problems? Send more American tax dollars to dictators…just different ones. https://t.co/pvw1P4117M
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) March 6, 2022
Other responses are below:
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) March 6, 2022
Don’t forget Venezuela 😔 https://t.co/qdVFlXtbAb
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 6, 2022
This administration is such a joke.
Biden admin courts Venezuela as Russian economy takes hits from sanctions: report | Fox News https://t.co/hH165ShiqD
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) March 6, 2022
Here’s the kicker. Want to squeeze Russia harder? Great. Then what? Only sane answer is US production. Reaching out to Iran and Venezuela is so bad it’s hard to find the words for it. https://t.co/pKY0QqQ6G4
— Rebeccah Heinrichs (@RLHeinrichs) March 6, 2022
Relying on Russia & Venezuela for oil and gas is asinine. Big polluters and *actual* despoilers of the environment. Human rights abusers too.
Preservationist enviros: Abandon your opposition to balanced use and fossil fuels here in U.S. Our planet and civilization at stake here.
— Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) March 6, 2022
Biden is now cutting deals with Iran and Venezuela. He doesn’t want America to be energy independent. You’re being played.
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) March 6, 2022
We’re at a place where the White House is begging Venezuela for oil and Thomas Friedman is begging China for help.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) March 6, 2022
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.