Durbin calls on Obama to tap Strategic Petroleum Reserve; GOP leaders balk

But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate Democratic Whip, wants the president to tap the 727-million-barrel reserve to combat rising prices due to uncertainty over unrest in the Middle East and increased demand.

“I think the president is right, we need to consider moving toward the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to put the oil that we have in reserve into the economy to try to temper this increase in gas prices, this isn’t helping our recover,” Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Durbin said use of the reserve should not be limited to disruptions of supplies.

“I’m worried that if we don’t use the reserve that our economic recovery will stall and fall backward,” Durbin said. “We don’t need to see unemployment figures going up.”

Republican leaders in the Senate and House, however, oppose tapping the reserve to slow the rise in gas prices.

Prices have risen from an average of $3.19 per gallon to $3.52 gallon between Feb. 21 and March 7, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” they would oppose opening up the reserve to put more supply in the country and bring down prices.

“The problem is not supply, as all the experts will say,” Kyl said. “Gas prices have doubled under Obama and one of the reasons is he has not issued drilling permits, including in the Gulf [of Mexico].”