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As GOP calls Biden's oil reserve depletions election-year politics, figures show he's sold off the most

In April 2022, the White House celebrated the Biden administration’s sale of the first 30 million of an eventual 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which seemed an unprecedented election year move at the time.

In May, the Energy Department similarly celebrated a planned liquidation of 1 million barrels from the NGSR, a Perth Amboy-to-Boston contingent of the SPR, aimed at lowering summertime gas prices.

Fox News Digital took a deeper dive into the numbers to see whether administration critics have ground to stand on when it comes to claims Biden is wielding U.S. oil reserves as an unprecedented election-year cudgel, versus simply helping Americans better afford to travel.

The findings showed the SPR saw its most sweeping drawdowns during Biden’s tenure, and that he, and former Presidents Trump and Clinton oversaw the largest historical decline in reserves.

BIDEN CANCELS PLANS TO REFILL EMERGENCY OIL RESERVES AMID HIGH PRICES

In the 2022 case, a White House announcement blamed in part Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine for supply disruptions that elevated oil prices, after Siberia was no longer permitted as a U.S. source of fuel.

However, Republicans, including former President Trump, blamed Biden’s cancellation of transcontinental pipeline projects and executive actions affecting energy production in Alaska and elsewhere that caused gas prices to soar from roughly $2 per gallon during the prior administration.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called this year’s sale evidence the administration is "laser focused" on slashing consumer costs, particularly ahead of the summer travel season.

"By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state and northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most," Granholm said in a statement.

MAJOR LITHIUM DISCOVERY IN FRACKING WASTEWATER LEAVES LEFT FACING EV IRONY

Figures uncovered by Fox News showed that in the years since the SPR got up to speed during the Carter years – it had been established following the 1973 oil crisis as an energy security measure – it was depleted the most under Biden’s tenure.

Following the 1980 election, the SPR notched 112.5 million barrels in January 1981, and by the end of President Ronald Reagan’s term, it had grown to nearly 450 million barrels in January 1989. As of 2023, the SPR has a maximum capacity of 714 million barrels.

Both Presidents Bush increased the capacity of the SPR – George H.W. Bush added 13.8 million barrels, while his son – who announced a full-throated effort to shore up reserves after 9/11 – added a net 162 million barrels by January 2009.

During Operation Desert Storm, 21 million barrels were depleted, and 11 million were utilized following Hurricane Katrina, which decimated coastal oil refineries.

Every other president since that time, plus Clinton, has seen the reserves depleted under his watch.

The Arkansas Democrat saw a net depletion of 33.7 million barrels, while the Trump administration oversaw a drawdown of about 57 million barrels.

Biden has more than quadrupled that figure from January 2021 through March, with a net decrease of 274 million barrels – which does not include any selloffs from the administration’s May announcement.

President Obama also saw the SPR reduced about 9 million barrels during his term.

Fox News’ analysis found releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves via a president’s orders – such as during Desert Storm and following Katrina – have been rare, and only substantively fallen under an "emergency release" scenario.

A Congressional Research Service report from 2022 after Putin invaded Ukraine claimed such drawdowns in SPR reserves are permissible and that they should not always be characterized as politically motivated.

YOUNGKIN DECLARES ‘INDEPENDENCE FROM CALIFORNIA’ AS VIRGINIA EXITS EMISSIONS PACT

Congress itself is also permitted to occasionally mandate sales of oil reserves to fund legislative priorities.

But, this time, congressional Republicans have called out Biden, alleging he is playing politics with America’s energy security in an election year.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers – the top Republicans on their respective energy committees – accused Biden of doing just that in a scathing letter to Granholm:

"Under President Biden, the SPR has reached its lowest level since 1983. The DOE has overseen the largest sale in history, amounting to a total of 290 million barrels. When President Biden took office in January 2021, the SPR contained 638 million barrels of oil," they said.

"Today, the SPR currently contains 367 million barrels of oil, which represents nearly a 42 percent decline from when President Biden took office."

The lawmakers called the Biden release in 2022 "a transparent attempt to influence the midterm elections and distract from the Biden administration’s energy policy failures."

In an apparent attempt to halt politicization, McMorris-Rodgers authored the Strategic Production Response Act, which would limit SPR drawdowns until Congress can provide oversight while banning depletion for "nonemergency purposes." The bill passed the House.

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When Trump attempted to do the opposite and fill the SPR while oil prices were at a rock-bottom $24 per barrel, he was conversely stopped by Democrats. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., celebrated the block at the time, claiming removing the provision from a bill "eliminated a $3 billion bailout for Big Oil."

However, the White House did announce opposition to McMorris-Rodgers' bill, claiming it would "significantly weaken a critical energy security tool."

"This administration’s use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been essential to protecting our energy security and to lowering gas prices for Americans," the White House said in 2023.

The Energy Department and White House did not respond to requests for further comment for purposes of this story. 

Fox News' Mark Bentley contributed to this report.

2024/06/19 15:18

High-level US-Israel meeting 'canceled,' per source, as WH official says details not 'fully finalized'

A high-level meeting planned between U.S. and Israeli officials regarding Iran's nuclear program was canceled after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a lack of U.S. military aid, a source told Fox News, while a White House official pushed back on the claim.

Senior officials had planned to meet Thursday following new revelations about Iran's nuclear program. Hours after news of the meeting got out, Netanyahu went public with a pre-recorded video, in English, calling a recent lack of U.S. military support for Israel "inconceivable."

The meeting was canceled after Netanyahu's comments, a senior official told Fox News. The official said a scheduled U.S. visit by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant next week is proceeding as planned, as are other meetings about aid distribution and coordination.

Meantime, a White House official said plans for the meeting were still moving forward, but have yet to be "fully finalized."

US PARK POLICE INVESTIGATING CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AFTER ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTS

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued that Netanyahu's video was a peek behind the curtain at the Biden administration's policies.

ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTERS TRAP CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS, TAKE OVER AND VANDALIZE CAMPUS BUILDING

"What’s becoming clear is that the White House has misled Congress and the American people as to the extent of the withholding of key munitions that Israel needs to defend itself. It’s not just about 2,000-pound bombs, it’s about the precision guided conversion kits," he told Fox News Digital.

"The president is effectively allying with Iran to squeeze Israel inside Tehran’s ring of fire," he added, referring to the Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups.

The Thursday meeting would have pertained to information about a computer modeling program Iran has acquired that could be used to assist in developing nuclear weapons. Iran's intentions behind the program remain unclear, with officials reportedly split on whether it is innocuous or represents further nuclear ambition from the regime.

Referring to reports of the canceled meeting, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office declined to elaborate but emphasized that Israel and the U.S. have "ongoing discussions at every single level with US officials," and that "those are very important to us."

RIOTER VANDALISM TARGETED AFTER PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTS

Some Israeli officials were already en route to the U.S. when they were informed the meeting was off, Axios reported Wednesday.

Netanyahu's video referenced a conversation he had with Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his trip to Israel last week. He said he had expressed his "deep appreciation" for U.S. support but tacked on a heavy criticism as well.

"I also said something else, I said it's inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel," Netanyahu said.

Fox News' Caroline McKee contributed to this report.

2024/06/19 14:27

Jan 6 subpoenas against Trump aides would be revoked under new bill

There is a new House GOP-led effort to revoke subpoenas that the House select committee on Jan. 6 sent to key aides of former President Trump. 

Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Eric Burlison, R-Mo., introduced a resolution on Tuesday to rescind subpoenas that the now-defunct committee sent to Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino.

It would also withdraw the contempt of Congress resolutions filed against each individual over his defiance of those subpoenas.

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"The Committee was used as a political weapon with a singular focus on taking down Trump and his advisors through the intentional manipulation of facts and the silencing of the minority party," Burlison said on X. "The subpoenas issued by the illegitimate Committee for Bannon, Navarro, Scavino, and Meadows were insufficient and should be rescinded, and the contempt of Congress referrals based on those subpoenas should be withdrawn."

Massie wrote on the platform, "Time is of the essence. Speaker Johnson should immediately bring this resolution to the floor for a vote!"

Former Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told Fox News Digital in response to the effort, "Thankfully, this resolution will have no impact. The subpoenas issued by the Select Committee were litigated exhaustively, with contempt of Congress charges going as high as the Supreme Court. Sadly, it’s just the latest attempt by House Republicans to subvert the rule of law and do Donald Trump’s bidding. Nothing will exonerate Trump from his actions on January 6 and nothing will change the fact that Bannon and Navarro are convicted criminals."

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office declined to comment. 

PELOSI REBUKED TO HER FACE DURING OXFORD DEBATE AFTER CONDEMNING AMERICANS CLOUDED BY 'GUNS, GAYS, GOD'

As of Wednesday, the GOP legislation has 22 additional co-sponsors beyond the three lawmakers supporting it.

Bannon, Trump’s former strategic adviser, and Navarro, his former trade adviser, were both sentenced to four months in prison in cases stemming from their contempt referrals by Congress.

The Department of Justice did not prosecute Meadows or Scavino.

Pelosi established the select committee in mid-2021 in response to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when the former president’s supporters stormed the building in protest of his election loss to President Biden.

DOJ WILL NOT TURN OVER BIDEN'S RECORDED INTERVIEW WITH SPECIAL COUNSEL HUR TO CONGRESS

An initial vote to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the riot passed the House, with 35 Republicans and all Democrats, but died in the Senate. The House subsequently voted to create a select committee – with just two GOP votes – which granted Pelosi full power of appointments in "consultation" with Republicans.

GOP critics of the panel have used that fight as evidence of the committee being a partisan exercise, including Pelosi’s rejection of two Trump-allied Republicans that were nominated by then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

One of those allies, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is one of the co-sponsors of Burlison’s resolution.

2024/06/19 14:05

Key Dem Senate candidate who accused opponent of election denialism has history of questioning results

FIRST ON FOX: The Democrat running in one of this year's top Senate races, who accused his opponent of election denialism, also has a history of questioning the legitimacy of the vote.

Rep. Colin Allred, the Democratic nominee in Texas' Senate race, recently launched attacks against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for avoiding directly saying he would accept the results of the upcoming election, but appears to have forgotten his own statements openly suggesting that future election outcomes may need to be questioned.

"Ted Cruz views questions about our democracy as part of a cynical partisan game. Our democracy isn’t a game. It’s fundamental to who we are as Americans. Ted Cruz is a danger to our freedoms and shared values. We must fire him this November," Allred wrote on X, referencing an appearance by Cruz on liberal network CNN, where he clashed with one of its hosts asking if he'd accept the results this November.

DEM IN MAJOR SENATE RACE ACCUSED OF ‘PANDERING’ TO BLACK VOTERS BY SUPPORTING REPARATIONS

Cruz pushed back during the interview, questioning why the media never asks Democrats if they would accept election results. He argued that laws in place allowing for results to be challenged on the basis of voter fraud were there for a reason, and hit back at the host's claims there was no fraud during the 2020 election.

Allred, in fact, warned of such fraud ahead of the 2020 election, specifically during an August 2019 appearance at a town hall in Garland, Texas. During the event, he peddled claims that the 2016 election results were due to Russian interference by referencing the Mueller report and Russia hacking into election databases. He also argued there was a need to have "paper trails" on electronic voting machines.

"What we saw in that report may color some of what is happening here, in terms of a willingness to accept foreign interference in elections and things like that. And I think this has raised an entirely new specter for us, which is, is our next election going to be a legitimate one? And that, I think, is a proximate danger for our democracy," Allred said during an appearance on a local radio show in September 2019, again referencing the Mueller report.

DEM SENATE CANDIDATE ATTENDS EVENT WHERE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WERE INFORMED ON HOW TO EVADE LAW ENFORCEMENT

He similarly told a meeting of the Richardson Area Democrats a month later that he was troubled by "the idea that the next election might not be legitimate," suggesting then-President Trump might attempt to use foreign influence to boost his chances at re-election, and said he was "worried still about some of the abilities to hack and change voter rolls and even change vote totals."

Allred said at another town hall meeting that same month that the reason for the then-ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry was "because the legitimacy of the next election was put into question by this President’s actions." 

He said during a Capitol Hill press conference the following year, "We have to decide in this country who’s going to determine our elections. This is only the beginning of this. The Russians in 2016, other foreign influences in 2018. In 2020, there will be other adversaries who will try to take advantage of this."

TOP DEM SENATE CANDIDATE DIVERTED MILLIONS FROM POLICE DURING CRIME SURGE TO FUND MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY

Allred continued using similar rhetoric following the 2020 election, including in a 2022 Business Insider article, where he warned of election subversion in that year's midterm elections and in 2024.

"I think there's a very real possibility that we will see in the next two elections, get some results sent to us for ratification – whether it's presidential, congressional or Senate, that's not consistent or that we're gonna have to question… I think that's the reality of the situation we can no longer pretend like these elections are just going to continue to proceed the way they have in the past," he said.

Fox News Digital asked Allred's campaign the same question CNN posed to Cruz: Whether he would accept the outcome of the 2024 election. It offered no response.

Josh Stewart, a spokesperson for Allred's campaign, told Fox regarding the congressman's past questioning of elections, "The only person in this race who tried to overturn a free and fair election is Ted Cruz. Texans saw it with their own eyes on Jan. 6, and come November, they are going to hold him accountable."

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

2024/06/19 13:09

Mike Pence's group urges GOP to oppose measure including women in future draft

FIRST ON FOX: Former Vice President Mike Pence's organization is urging Republican congressional leaders to prevent a provision from moving forward in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require women to sign up for a potential military draft. 

"The notion of the United States of America requiring women to register to fight our wars is simply untenable and must be opposed at all costs," Advancing American Freedom (AAF) Executive Director Paul Teller wrote in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., on Wednesday.

TRUMP-BACKED CANDIDATE WINS VIRGINIA’S REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY TO TAKE ON TIM KAINE

The Senate version of the NDAA advanced out of the Senate Committee on Armed Services last week, including an amendment that would expand selective service registration requirements to include women. 

"There is simply no good reason to require women to register for the draft absent the complete rejection of logic and defiance of common sense," Teller said. 

VA DEM TIM KAINE WARNS AGAINST TAKING ELECTION FOR GRANTED AS TRUMP EYES BLUE STATE

"We oppose this move in the strongest possible terms and urge you and all Republicans to oppose any legislation that results in young women registering with the Selective Service for a possible future draft," the letter continued. 

The correspondence was signed by more than 40 other conservative organizations and leaders, including Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America; Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project; and Gary Bauer, president of American Values. 

SENATE GOP STOPS DEM ATTEMPT TO BAN BUMP STOCKS AFTER SCOTUS REVERSES TRUMP-ERA RULE

The controversial provision was not included in the version of the NDAA that passed the Republican-led House last week. That bill, which is unlikely to be brought up in the Senate, would automatically register men aged 18 to 26 for the draft.

A spokesperson for Johnson told Fox News Digital he does not support the provision to include women being in the eventual compromise bill between the House and Senate. 

Some Senate Republicans pushed back at the amendment's inclusion in the fiscal year 2025 NDAA, with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., writing on X, "Why are the politicians forcing women into the draft? Because Democrats want to eliminate gender completely & turn the military into a social experiment."

SCHUMER PUSHES FOR BUMP STOCK BAN AFTER SCOTUS REVERSES TRUMP-ERA RULE

"And some Republicans want to draft everybody they can to fight all these wars. Here’s my answer to both: NO," he added. 

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, made his own disagreement clear last week, posting on X that the provision would only get through "over my dead body."

McConnell's office did not immediately provide comment to Fox News Digital. 

However, the Senate Republican leader may disagree with AAF and Johnson on the matter, having previously voiced support for expanding selective service registration to include women. 

"I personally think it would be appropriate for [women] to register just like men do," McConnell said in 2016, as reported by the New York Times

"First of all, I don’t anticipate going back to the draft. The professional voluntary Army has been very successful. We’re talking here about registration for Selective Service, should we ever go back to a draft," he explained at the time. 

Explaining his stance, he noted that women are now "performing virtually all kinds of functions" in the military. 

2024/06/19 11:19

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