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The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday to prohibit the federal government from selling U.S. crude oil from the nation’s emergency stockpile to China, laying the groundwork for the GOP’s energy policy priorities in the chamber.

The bill rebukes the Biden administration, which sold oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to China last summer as part of a larger sell-off to try blunting record-high prices at the pump.

Sales from the reserve are mandated under law to go to the highest bidder, tying the Biden administration’s hands. But Republicans say the sales never should have taken place to begin with because they were used for political purposes to try lowering gasoline costs in an election year.

“America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve is meant for true energy supply disruptions like those caused by hurricanes and natural disasters — not to help China,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said. “Draining our strategic reserves for political purposes and selling portions to China is a significant threat to our national security.”

The Washington Republican spearheaded the legislation, which passed 331-97. It garnered support from 113 Democrats. It’s unclear whether the Democratic-led Senate, which is out until later this month, will vote on the measure.

Mr. Biden has sold roughly 180 million barrels of oil from the SPR to blunt high prices in the face of his choke on domestic energy production and Russia’s war against Ukraine. The sales have depleted the U.S. stockpile to its lowest level since 1983, drawing charges from Republicans that America’s national security has been jeopardized.

Democrats, many of whom begrudgingly voted for the bill, said it did not go far enough to prevent sales to other foreign adversaries and that Republicans should have worked with them on separate bipartisan legislation that would bar sales to China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and other countries.

“My bill is stronger, it’s bipartisan and it has a chance in the Senate,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, Pennsylvania Democrat. “The bill we’re talking about today is weaker, it’s partisan and it will unfortunately likely never pass the Senate’s legislative graveyard.”

The irony was not lost on Republicans.

They noted Mr. Biden previously requested more oil from adversaries like Iran and Venezuela and accused his green energy policies of hurting domestic oil production. Republicans also emphasized that Democrats had plenty of opportunity to pass their own legislation to address foreign oil sales under their one-party control of Washington the past two years.

“You guys got to be kidding me. Seriously? You were in control. You had the House, you had the Senate, you had the presidency,” said Rep. Jeff Van Drew, New Jersey Republican. “If you thought there were any good bills or good ideas to stop this or bills that were better than anything we’re putting forward, why didn’t you do them? You had the control. You didn’t need us for a whole lot of other things. You voted and rammed things through that we didn’t want, rammed things through that were radical. And yet with this common-sense legislation, nothing happened.”

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