House GOP leader: Oil from Iran, Venezuela to offset Russia would just pay other dictators

The U.S. needs to boost oil production to replace banned Russian crude instead of possibly looking to Iran or Venezuela, which are also run by dictators, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told CNBC on Wednesday.

“Why would you take the billions of dollars you provide to [Russian President Vladimir Putin] and just give it to another dictator that funds terrorism around the world with Iran and Venezuela?” McCarthy said on “Squawk Box.”

“[President Joe Biden] said at the State of the Union, ‘buy America.’ I believe he probably thought that, but no American energy,” McCarthy added, referring to Biden’s statement in his State of the Union address that led to rousing chants of U-S-A.

McCarthy’s comments on CNBC come one day after Biden announced the U.S. would ban Russian oil imports.

U.S. and Venezuelan officials met over the weekend to discuss potentially loosening some oil sanctions on the South American nation. The White House announced Tuesday night the Venezuelan government has freed two jailed Americans, including an oil executive imprisoned alongside colleagues for more than four years.

Iran, meanwhile, has been gradually increasing oil production in the last six months due to rising exports to China — and also in anticipation that talks with world powers, including the U.S., to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal could lead to more oil exports. Former President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell roughly 5% on Wednesday after days of surges driven by investor fears that Russian’s invasion of Ukraine would lead to curtailed oil supply.

Echoing his Republican colleagues, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, McCarthy called for the U.S. to produce more oil onshore. The California congressman also suggested the U.S. could and should become a top global supplier of oil.

“We could be energy independent, but we could be energy dominant, where we not only supply all the energy for America, but we could supply it for the world,” McCarthy said. “That would make America stronger and the world safer.”

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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