House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has called for legal safeguards to prevent the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) from being used for political purposes after President Joe Biden decided to release more oil from the stockpile to push down pump prices ahead of the midterm elections.
McCarthy made the remarks during an Oct. 19 appearance on the "Hugh Hewitt Show," where he alleged that Biden's releases from the strategic stockpile are intended to "manipulate an election" and are "putting the whole country at risk."
"The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was designed for an emergency time period. He’s using it trying to manipulate an election," McCarthy said.
The Republican congressman said drawdowns from the stockpile should be used only in case of major disruptive events like hurricanes or war.
"He has just jeopardized the American people," McCarthy alleged. "So, we’re going to have to safeguard that [so] that you cannot use that for your political gain."
Biden has decided to release another 15 million in oil reserves from the strategic stockpile, which comes just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.
“Not it’s not,” the president replied. “Look, it makes sense, I’ve been doing this for how long now? It’s not politically motivated at all.”
Biden said the decision was to "make sure there’s enough oil that’s being pumped by the companies so that we have the ability to be able to produce enough gas that we need here at home, oil we need here at home."
To date, Biden has released more oil from the strategic reserve than all previous presidents combined. The SPR is now at its lowest level since 1984.
Republicans have criticized Biden for the move, alleging it's politically motivated. Biden bristled when asked by a reporter at Wednesday's press conference what his response is to GOP claims he's releasing oil to help Democrats in the midterms.
“Where have they been the last four months? That’s my response," Biden said.
A White House fact sheet says the additional sale of 15 million barrels from the stockpile would help "stabilize crude oil markets and reduce prices at the pump."
Gas prices are now down around 30 percent from summer highs.
At its peak in 2010, the SPR held around 726 million barrels. Now around 400 million barrels are left.