Reaction to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address from the Oklahoma congressional delegation varies from member to member, but generally features praise for the speech’s strong support of Ukraine and condemnation of Vladimir Putin. However, there is harsh criticism for the president’s depiction of his domestic policies and the impact they’ve had on the nation.
“I was pleased to see that the president actually started with Ukraine, that is a unifying issue for the American people and it was obvious last night as well,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in an interview Wednesday morning.
However, the Senator joined a chorus of others in the delegation who say the president could have sent a more powerful message to Russian President Putin if he would ban the import of all Russian oil.
“Clearly Putin is using income from oil and gas to be able to murder his neighbors,” said Lankford. “We shouldn’t facilitate that — we should find a way to be able to cut that off.”
The United States has been importing millions of barrels of oil per month from Russia since the early 2000s, according to data from U.S. Energy Information Administration. Russian crude oil imports hit a low of five million barrels in November 2014, but have since steadily increased, exceeding 20 million bbls/month several times in the last two years.
Given the current situation, the continued purchase of Russian oil has become a partisan political issue, with Republicans, including Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3)) recently introducing the American Energy Independence from Russia Act.
The majority of Oklahoma’s delegation, Lucas included, singled out the fact that the solution Biden proposed Tuesday night to higher gas prices is a donation of 60 million barrels of crude oil from strategic petroleum reserves, with 30 million coming from the U.S.
“I was disappointed when [President Biden] discussed meeting our energy needs, instead of more drilling in United States, more development of oil and gas, he said he will ask the world to take 30 million barrels out of their reserves,” said Rep. Lucas Wednesday. “We have that at home, in Oklahoma, we have it in the United States, we don’t need to beg the rest of the world.”
The delegation said Biden's anti-fossil fuel energy policies helped create the mess abroad and soaring prices at home.
“At the end of the day, you can’t deny that inflation is 40 percent higher than it’s been,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2), “you can’t deny we have an extreme border crisis.”