Ahead of President Obama’s last State of the Union address, Republicans are once again blasting what the White House considers a key accomplishment of the president’s foreign policy legacy: the Iran nuclear deal. And this time, they’re warning that the international agreement could take down the U.S. oil industry.
“As a consequence of President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, this state sponsor of terrorism will now be able to increase its oil exports at a moment when our moderate Sunni allies, and their partners, feel increasingly threatened by Iranian belligerents,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, said in a video released Saturday. “As a result, Saudi Arabia has opened the spigot to maintain its own level of exports.”
The GOP senator warned that these factors — compounded with the threats of Russia and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — are “actually working to undermine our energy industry.”
“A huge part of Vladimir Putin’s power base on the world stage is the fact that so much of Europe depends on oil and gas from Russia,” Hoeven said. “And [ISIS] is relying on oil and gas dollars to fund its brutal terrorist activities in the Middle East and beyond.”
The chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Hoeven added that “energy security is a vitally important part of national security.”
Hoeven proposed taking more “proactive steps” to growing domestic oil production. He pointed to such legislative maneuvers like Congress’ recent lifting of the U.S. ban on crude oil exports, which passed after GOP leaders struck a spending deal with Democrats that also extended renewable energy tax breaks.
“Low-cost energy makes us more competitive in the global economy across the board in all industry sectors,” he said. “You do that by building the kind of legal tax and regulatory climate that attracts investment, innovation and jobs. You do that by reforming the tax code to make it simpler, flatter and fairer so that the American people have the motivation to compete and win.”
In his own video, Mr. Obama championed initiatives that have helped prop up another industry tied heavily to U.S. oil production: America’s auto manufacturers.
“I placed my bet on American manufacturing,” Mr. Obama said in the Saturday video. “In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We said the auto industry would have to truly change, not just pretend that it did. We got labor and management to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure.”
He touted the fruits of the auto industry bailout, countering critics who called it a “road to socialism” and a “disaster waiting to happen.”
“Since our plan went into effect, our automakers have added more than 640,000 new jobs,” Mr. Obama said. “We’ve cut the Detroit-area unemployment rate by more than half. The Big Three automakers are raising wages.”
Today, the president said, “the American auto industry is back.”
The president also previewed his trip to Detroit later this month to visit the city’s annual auto show, saying his attendance would allow him “to see this progress firsthand.”