McClintock said under current law, any money earned on the sale of SPR oil must be returned for the purpose of replenishing the reserve.

Under the bill under consideration this week, H.R. 2354, the secretary of Energy would be required to sell $500 million worth of SPR oil by March 1, 2012. The bill says the secretary "shall deposit any proceeds from such sales in the General Fund of the Treasury."

Report language accompanying the bill from the Appropriations Committee acknowledges that money raised from the sale would be used to "offset spending elsewhere in the Department of Energy's budget request." The report also says this change should not be seen as a precedent.

"The Committee supports the actions necessary to ensure continued structural integrity at storage sites, but is concerned about the use of revenues for other purposes," it said. "The Committee's acceptance of the proposal should not be viewed as a precedent or as support for future uses of SPR oil sales to mask Departmental spending."

The House considered several amendments to the spending bill Thursday, and is expected to hold a final round of votes on the bill Friday.