WASHINGTON—Representative Scott Franklin (FL-15) today introduced the Prohibiting Oil Trade with Venezuela’s Tyrant Act, which would require the president to prohibit the importation of all petroleum products originating from Venezuela. The bill was developed in response to reports that the Biden Administration discussed loosening sanctions on Venezuela’s Maduro regime. Original co-sponsors include: Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25), Carlos Giménez (FL-24), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2), Stephanie Bice (OK-5), Steven Palazzo (MS-4), Bob Gibbs (OH-7), Mike Waltz (FL-8), Burgess Owens (UT-4), John Rutherford (FL-4), Neil Dunn (FL-2), Tim Burchett (TN-2), Brian Mast (FL-18), Jake LaTurner (KS-2), Kat Cammack (FL-3), Greg Murphy (NC-3), Jim Banks (IN-3), Ralph Norman (SC-5), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-2), Byron Donalds (FL-19), Greg Steube (FL-17), and Buddy Carter (GA-01).
“By engaging in talks with the Maduro regime, the Biden administration has again shown it is more interested in buying oil from ruthless dictatorships than supporting domestic production,” said Rep. Franklin. “Removing oil sanctions on Venezuela to offset purchasing from Russia would simply be replacing support for one dictator with another. My legislation would prevent the Biden administration from empowering the Maduro regime by blocking Venezuelan oil imports. The solution to America’s energy needs is to unleash our domestic oil market and buy American, not filling the coffers of brutal foreign dictators.
“Increasing American energy can also help cut off Russia’s energy cash flow and provide affordable, reliable energy to global allies. Maintaining these sanctions is one of our strongest diplomatic and strategic tools. President Biden’s consideration of removal of these sanctions jeopardizes the safety and economic security of America. This Administration must stop putting political expediency above national security and unleash the U.S. domestic energy market.”
“If the Biden Administration agrees to weaken sanctions on the murderous, anti-American Maduro dictatorship, it would be shamelessly selling out freedom for the Venezuelan people and America’s national security interests,” said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart. “Instead, the United States must pursue a policy that prioritizes American values, rather than trading one type of blood oil for another.”
“Nicolás Maduro is just another puppet of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping,” said Rep. Giménez. “The fact that President Biden sent a delegation to Venezuela and is using current U.S. sanctions as a bargaining chip with an illegitimate government is a slap across the face to the thousands of Venezuelan constituents I represent.”
On Saturday, March 5th, members of the Biden Administration reportedly traveled to Venezuela for discussions on the potential easing of sanctions on the Maduro regime so that the country can produce more oil and sell it on the international market. These talks followed months of skyrocketing gas prices across the United States. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have called upon the Administration to block Russian oil imports in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, though there has been concern that banning Russian oil imports could lead to further price increases. In response to political pressure, President Biden announced a ban on all Russian oil imports into the United States. Rep. Franklin outlined how ramping up U.S. domestic oil production could offer an alternative to Russian oil and push back against its invasion of Ukraine in a recent op-ed, which can be viewed by clicking here.
The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Venezuela in 2019 due to concerns that President Nicolas Maduro engaged in election fraud against his challenger, Juan Guaidó. The Trump Administration also blocked all U.S. revenue to Venezuela’s national oil company in response. For more than two decades, Venezuela has been ruled by a Socialist regime founded by former President Hugo Chávez. Maduro succeeded Chavez in 2013 and has largely continued his predecessor’s policies and abysmal human rights record.
On his first day in office, President Biden took steps to halt American energy independence, including blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and reversal of many domestic energy options. These decisions led to significant increases in the price of oil and gas months before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.