Following reports that President Joe Biden is contemplating providing substantial sanctions relief to Venezuela’s Government, Republicans attacked him. This would allow Chevron to restart pumping oil in Venezuela and open the door for crude oil exports to the West.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration would provide sanctions relief to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro if he resumes talks with the political opposition regarding conditions for a free and fair presidential election in 2024.
This proposal comes just one day after OPEC+ member countries announced that they would reduce oil production by 2,000,000 barrels per day. This is a significant blow to the Biden administration which had lobbied heavily for oil producers not to reduce their output and squeeze more energy markets.
These cuts are causing fears about higher oil prices and gasoline prices in the United States. This would affect Democrats in the midterm election and increase revenues for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Following the announcement, Karine Jean-Pierre, a White House spokesperson, stated that it was clear that OPEC+ has announced its alignment with Russia.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, March saw talks with Venezuela on reducing sanctions. Since then, they have gained momentum. Biden announced this weekend a prisoner exchange between Washington and Caracas – authorizing Maduro to return two relatives imprisoned in the U.S. in return for Venezuela returning seven American detainees.
According to a U.S. official, the prisoner swap provided “new opportunities” for the two countries.
Prominent Republicans took advantage of the news to attack Biden’s energy policies. They called a deal with Venezuela “unconscionably hazardous” while others blamed Biden for creating the energy crisis.
“Why would you allow Venezuela’s corrupt leader Maduro — a Russian lacking — to make money selling oil and not let freedom-loving Pennsylvanians Kansans, Oklahomans, and North Dakotans prior to that?” Mike Pompeo, former Director of the CIA, said in response, “Unconscionably Dangerous.”
Why on earth would you let Venezuela’s corrupt leader Maduro — a Russian lackey – make money by selling oil and not let freedom-loving Pennsylvanians, Kansans, Oklahomans, Texans and North Dakotans before that? Unconscionably dangerous.https://t.co/xxX3CyftnH
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) October 5, 2022
“Banning drilling and emptying the strategic reserves, begging Venezuelan dictators to produce more oil — these aren’t accidents,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R. AR) stated on Twitter. It’s declined by design.
Banning drilling, emptying the strategic reserve, begging the Venezuelan dictator to produce more oil—these policies aren’t an accident
It’s decline by design.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 5, 2022
Responding to the news, the Biden administration stated that it does not plan to change Venezuela’s sanctions policy without Maduro taking constructive steps to restore democracy.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, stated that “our sanctions policy on Venezuela is unchanged.” She made this statement to Reuters. She added, “We will continue to enforce and implement our Venezuela sanctions.”