Senate Democrats Block Amendment to Massive Spending Bill to Prevent US Oil Sales to China

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Forty-six Senate Democrats recently rejected a GOP legislative amendment to block the Biden administration from selling oil from the United States’ strategic reserve to the Chinese regime.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered the amendment during a “vote-a-rama” process, which lasted nearly 16 hours from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon, when senators voted on many amendments and motions for a Democrat-led bill known as the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”

The legislation, a mammoth spending bill totaling $740 billion on climate and energy, health care, and taxes, passed on Aug. 7 by a party-line vote of 51 to 50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The House could give the legislation final approval on Aug. 12, when lawmakers reconvene briefly from summer recess.

Before the passage of the legislation, Cruz urged his Democrat colleagues to support his amendment, reminding them that the Biden administration has sold millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to China.

“That oil was paid for by U.S. taxpayers,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “My bill would block the president from selling our oil to the Chinese communists.”

Cruz continued, “I would note also that it was sold to a Chinese company owned by the communist government, in which a significant stake was owned by a private equity firm, owned in significant part by the president’s own son, Hunter Biden.”

“If the Democrats don’t want to see millions of barrels of U.S. oil sold to the Chinese communists, they should support my amendment,” Cruz added.

Epoch Times Photo
Hunter Biden walks to Marine One on the Ellipse outside the White House in Washington on May 22, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sold nearly 6 million barrels of oil from the SPR from September 2021 to July 2022 to Unipec America, the U.S. trading arm of China’s state-owned oil and gas company Sinopec, according to DOE documents reviewed by The Epoch Times.

For each sale from the SPR, the DOE holds a competitive auction and awards contracts to the highest bidder.

Cruz’s amendment would have added a new condition in the bidding process. According to the language (pdf) of the amendment, an entity or individual who intends to sell the oil to China wouldn’t be considered to have placed a “valid” bid unless the offer is “10 times higher than the next highest bid.”

The amendment was rejected after a 54–46 vote that was short of a 60-vote majority needed to pass. Four Senate Democrats joined 50 Senate Republicans in voting in favor of the proposal.


After Cruz’s amendment was rejected, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) took to Twitter to say that House Democrats had blocked a similar amendment he co-sponsored with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “This is America-last energy policy,” Duncan wrote.

According to their proposal (pdf), petroleum would be banned from export to China and to any entity that does not certify that it is “not under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”

The House amendment was rejected after 219 Democrats unanimously voted against it in July, while 206 Republicans voted in favor of it.

Cruz is also leading another effort to ban U.S. oil sales to China. On July 13, he led a group of Republican colleagues in introducing a bill called “No Emergency Crude Oil for Foreign Adversaries Act.”

If enacted, the bill (S.4515) would block future SPR auctions from selling oil to China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, according to a statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) speaks during a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 3, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“President [Joe] Biden crushed American energy production and then sold our strategic oil reserves to China, all while claiming to care about the high prices Americans were paying at the pump,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) stated, one of the co-sponsors of the pending bill.

“This should never have been allowed to happen,” Hawley continued. “Congress must pass legislation to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), another co-sponsor, called Biden’s decision to sell SPR oil to China “irresponsible.”

“China is our greatest threat. We should be holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their actions, not assisting them in their efforts to stockpile oil as another means to challenge the United States and our allies,” Inhofe stated. 

Frank Fang


Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master’s degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.

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