By Ben Geman - 02/27/12 06:17 PM EST
Senate Republicans are bashing Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) call for increased Saudi Arabian oil production to help ease prices, alleging it shows that Democrats are weak when it comes to boosting North American energy supplies and jobs.
Schumer on Sunday urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to press Saudi officials to expand production, noting that the kingdom is producing well below its capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office on Monday circulated a press release headlined “Top Democrat Senator Demands Increased Energy Production, Jobs In Saudi Arabia Rather Than Increasing American Energy And American Jobs.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also doesn’t want Schumer’s letter to go unnoticed.
“Rather than approve the Keystone pipeline, the Democrats’ energy plan now calls for the most powerful nation in the free world to politely ask other countries for more oil and cross our fingers,” he said in a statement.
“An ‘all of the above’ energy strategy starts with signing off on Keystone and tapping into our own domestic resources, which the President could do with the simple stroke of a pen,” he said.
Cornyn and other Republicans have slammed the Obama administration’s decision in January to reject a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries.
The White House argues that Republicans were to blame for the decision because they imposed an “arbitrary” deadline that short-circuited proper review.
The administration is backing pipeline developer TransCanada Corp.’s plan to build a portion of the project from Cushing, Okla., to Gulf Coast refineries, and TransCanada plans to reapply for a permit for the overall Alberta-to-Texas pipeline.
Schumer's office did not provide immediate comment on the GOP attacks.
Schumer’s letter to Clinton called on the State Department to "work with the government of Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production, as they are currently producing well under their capacity."
His letter notes that "These skyrocketing fuel prices are directly linked to the global energy market, particularly Iran’s recent efforts to manipulate oil prices and the worry of impacts on supply from an escalation of regional hostilities."
Schumer made the request amid escalating partisan battles over rising gasoline prices.
President Obama, in a major speech last week, sought to rebut GOP attacks.
The president and aides, warning there’s no quick fix on gasoline prices, have accused Republicans of playing politics with the issue while touting Obama’s record on domestic energy production, auto efficiency rules and development of alternative sources.