The House convened at 10:00 A.M. and is considering H.R. 21 – Strategic Production Response Act. The measure would limit the Energy Department’s ability to draw down petroleum in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until it develops a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production. Republicans are aiming to neutralize one of the main tools that President Joe Biden used to lower gasoline prices before last year’s elections — his prolific releases of oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Today’s legislation follows a vote two weeks ago, when the House passed legislation that would ban sales from the reserve to China. The bill is expected to pass the House, but is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Senate convened at 10:00 A.M. and will vote at 1:45 P.M. on a measure to recognize January as National Stalking Awareness Month. The chamber has taken just one roll-call vote since being sworn in on January 3rd, confirming an assistant defense secretary on Monday. Otherwise, the chamber has been at a standstill, with no votes on Tuesday or Wednesday and continued haggling over committee assignments. In addition, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) says he will slow down confirmation of all of President Joe Biden’s nominees until Congress is allowed to review the classified documents found at the residences of Biden and former President Donald Trump. If Cotton follows through on his objection, it will mean Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has to burn multiple days of valuable floor time to set up nominee votes. The Arkansas Republican senator emerged Wednesday from a classified briefing with Biden officials, including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and accused the administration of “stonewalling” Congress. In response, Cotton said senators will “impose pain on the administration until they provide these documents. And that is coming from both parties.”
The Senate will not be in session tomorrow and will reconvene at 3:00 P.M. on Monday. The House is expected to be in session briefly tomorrow before also reconvening on Monday.