White House opposes GOP bill to lift oil exports

The White House criticized Republicans’ efforts to lift the ban on oil exports Tuesday and said the Obama administration will not support them.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the fact Republicans are focusing on oil exports shows that they are beholden to oil and natural gas interests.

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“We’ve got on a position on this, which is that this is a policy decision that is made over at the Commerce Department,” Earnest said at the daily press briefing, referring to Commerce’s role in approving oil exports to specific countries in limited cases.

“And for that reason, we wouldn’t support legislation like one that’s been put forward by Republicans,” he said.

Earnest’s comments came the same day House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to announce that the House will vote this month to end the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil.

McCarthy will give his remarks at an event hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership, which is largely funded by major oil companies based around Houston.

“The one thing that I would note is that this policy announcement is being made by Leader McCarthy in front of an organization in Houston that is largely funded by four or five of the biggest oil companies in the United States,” Earnest said. “So it is pretty clear once again where Republicans in Congress and their political benefactors stand when it comes to their energy policy priorities.”

Earnest challenged McCarthy to push oil companies to endorse ending tax breaks that benefit them and putting the money toward wind and solar energy.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on the oil exports bill Thursday, after a subcommittee of that panel approved it last week.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted in August to lift the ban.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the exports bill, said Tuesday that including renewable energy incentives might bring in more Democrats to support oil exports.