Peltola misses vote to limit Biden’s access to Strategic Petroleum Reserve that she says she would have supported

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed a Republican-led messaging bill Friday to limit the Biden administration’s access to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola missed the vote.

Peltola said she intended to vote in favor of the bill. Had she done so, she would have been one of two Democrats to support blocking the White House from tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve unless the administration approves a corresponding increase in oil and gas production from public lands and waters.

“I would have voted yes,” Peltola said. “But I thought we were done, and I used the bathroom and went for the elevator.”

The House of Representatives has been hectic with votes surrounding the bill. Republican leadership used a modified open rule for the first time in seven years, which allows any member to submit an amendment. Members of Congress filed 143 amendments, nearly 60 of which got a two-minute vote on the House floor between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon.

With the quick-fire series of votes, Peltola said, “there is a lot coming at you, auditorium-style seating, hard to get to the voting machine.” She added that with the time on the floor, members have been catching up, doing business and discussing potential caucuses to join.

“So unfortunately, and embarrassingly, I missed it,” she said.

The bill passed 221 to 205 with just one Democrat, Maine Rep. Jared Golden, voting in favor. Eight members did not vote on final passage.


Last year, President Joe Biden released record amounts of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to attempt to lower gas prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The drawdowns drained reserves to their lowest levels in four decades, and Republican opponents of the move argue that Biden’s releases abused the stockpile. In December, Biden announced his plans to refill the reserve.

Republican leaders say their bill would encourage domestic oil and gas production and improve U.S. energy security. Peltola said the measure is in Alaska’s best economic interest.

“Alaska is an oil and gas production state and we, of course, we all want to transition to renewables. We want to transition to cheaper, more abundant resources,” she said. “In the meantime, however, whether we need gas and oil, and that’s the reality of 2023.”

Peltola noted that the bill has virtually no chance of becoming law. The measure does not have enough support in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House has said Biden will veto the legislation if it makes it to his desk.

“A lot of this is making sure people know our positions and our stand on these issues,” Peltola said.

Before the vote on final passage, Peltola supported more than two dozen amendments with Republican and Democratic sponsors, including one from Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado to increase the maximum amount of federal lands leased for oil and gas production from 10% to 15%. She voted for another from Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona that would require the government’s leasing plan to include a consultation with tribal governments.

Environmental groups and several vocal House Democrats said the bill seeks to benefit oil companies at the expense of consumers and the climate.

“The Republican bill would hurt consumers, will hamstring the ability of the president to respond to an emergency,” Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida told reporters earlier in the week. “It would exacerbate climate pollution and the costly harms fueled by the climate crisis, and it’s completely unnecessary.”

Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan both said they were supportive of the House bill.

“I think it’s brilliant, and I think it’s reasonable,” Sullivan said of the House bill Thursday. “We have Strategic Petroleum Reserves. One is called Alaska.”

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Reporter Riley Rogerson is a full-time reporter for the ADN based in Washington, D.C. Her position is supported by Report for America, which is working to fill gaps in reporting across America and to place a new generation of journalists in community news organizations around the country. Report for America, funded by both private and public donors, covers up to 50% of a reporter’s salary. It’s up to Anchorage Daily News to find the other half, through local community donors, benefactors, grants or other fundraising activities.

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Riley Rogerson

Riley Rogerson is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C., and is a fellow with Report for America. Contact her at rrogerson@adn.com.