House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump

House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump
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A number of House Republicans are warning Saudi Arabia to ease oil production as a trade war between the kingdom and Russia has flooded markets and depressed oil prices.

Lawmakers, led by House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGinsburg becomes the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol House GOP slated to unveil agenda ahead of election House panel details 'serious' concerns around Florida, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin elections MORE (R-La.), said they were concerned “with the Kingdom’s actions to artificially distort global crude oil markets as countries around the world struggle to address a growing economic and health crisis fueled by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic."

The letter to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) prepares to meet Thursday to discuss production levels.

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Oil prices in March hit the lowest level in 18 years, with prices now hovering in the mid-$20 range after remaining around $55 in February. 

While coronavirus has limited people’s ability to travel, the global market has been overwhelmed with supply — harming U.S oil producers who must rely on the more expensive fracking process to produce oil.

“As a result of the Kingdom’s March decision to artificially depress global crude prices, thousands of American workers employed directly by our country’s oil and gas producers, as well as thousands more employed in related industries, face increased financial and economic uncertainty. While other global actors use oil and gas markets as political leverage, the Kingdom must be a model of leadership,” lawmakers said. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge's order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE has floated that both Russia and Saudi Arabia may be willing to reduce production by 15 million barrels.

But those comments have been followed by threats to possibly impose tariffs on foreign fuel sources — a concerning idea to many in the oil industry — or imposing production cuts on U.S. producers.

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House Republicans alluded to the potential for consequences amid slumped oil prices.

“Failure to address this energy crisis will jeopardize the joint efforts between our nations to collaborate economically and militarily,” they wrote. “If the Kingdom fails to act fairly to reverse this manufactured energy crisis, we would encourage any reciprocal responses that the U.S. government deems appropriate.”

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Lawmakers in the Senate last month urged Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC, channeling the message through Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo blasts media coverage of Trump foreign policy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell US says it will leave Baghdad embassy if Iraq doesn't rein in attacks: report MORE

“The Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries is a relic of a cartelized past, one that burdens the Kingdom with free-riders and forces it to shoulder the lion’s share of every production decision,” lawmakers wrote in a letter signed by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEnergy innovation bill can deliver jobs and climate progress Durbin: Democrats can 'slow' Supreme Court confirmation 'perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at most' Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election MORE (R-Alaska), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerNetflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project Abortion stirs GOP tensions in Supreme Court fight Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day MORE (R-N.D.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Trump administration finalizes plan to open up protected areas of Tongass National Forest to logging  OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver MORE (R-Alaska), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection MORE (R-Okla.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Bottom line Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock MORE (R-N.D.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

Updated at 4:32 p.m.