EXCLUSIVE: PONTE VEDRA, FLA.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said Republicans have "the answer" to combat the surge in gas prices in the United States, and delivered a message to President Biden on energy production, saying: "You want to save the planet? Make more things in America."
In an interview with Fox News on the sidelines of the House Republican Issues Conference, Scalise, R-La., said energy will continue to be "a major issue," as Americans grapple with record-high gas prices.
"The answer, in most people’s eyes, is right in front of us," Scalise told Fox News. "We can produce our own energy, lower the cost of gasoline, take leverage away from dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Biden won’t do it."
Scalise said Americans are "fed up" seeing gas prices increasing.
"You're over $100 and you’re still not halfway up filling up your tank, and you realize it is because of policies coming out of Washington," Scalise said.
"And you know, if the leaders don’t get the policy right, then you need to get new leaders," he said.
The Biden administration has repeatedly blamed the rising gas prices, and even record-high inflation, on Putin and his multi-front war against Ukraine. The White House has even coined the increase in gasoline prices as the "#PutinPriceHike."
But Scalise, and Republicans, have slammed their characterization, reminding that gas prices have been increasing since Biden took office in January 2021.
"Maybe Biden thinks he can trick people into thinking that gas prices just started going up," Scalise said. "Before the invasion, Biden was begging Putin to produce more oil, which again, begs the question, you knew Putin was getting ready to move on Ukraine, and we started having energy problems in America and higher prices because Biden limited the supply of oil here, and then, who did he turn to?"
Scalise said Biden "knows he could have turned to American energy producers to get more oil, but instead, he turned to Putin, knowing that Putin was taking that money every day and using it to build up his forces—over 100,000 at the time, to move on Ukraine."
Scalise estimated that because of that decision by the Biden administration, Putin "was pocketing $700 million a day before the war just by selling oil to America and Europe."
"In a very twisted way, Putin is benefiting from the higher prices and that has only gotten worse since he invaded Ukraine," Scalise said. "It is almost like the world is allowing him to prosper from this when we could be cutting him off and not replacing one dictator for another dictator."
Biden, earlier this month, announced that he would ban the imports of Russian oil, gas and energy amid the country’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Biden has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for high gas prices, which have risen sharply under his administration even before Russia’s invasion. Many have publicly called for him to open up oil and gas drilling in the United States to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Biden, though, said it is "not true" that his administration is holding back domestic energy production, warning that gas prices will "go up further" from their current record levels, and reiterated his support for government spending on renewable energy sources and criticizing the oil and gas industry for not taking full advantage of drilling opportunities in the U.S.
Biden has also been facing criticism from Republicans, urging him to lift his executive orders that canceled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
But after his announcement to ban Russian oil imports to the U.S., officials, earlier this month, were making efforts to replace some of that supply with oil from Iran and Venezuela.
"Why would you go to Iran? If you go away from Putin, go away from Putin and every other dictator and come right back home to America and produce energy," Scalise said.
Pointing to environmental and climate concerns from the Biden administration and Democrats about American energy production, Scalise said the United States emits "less carbon to make the same oil that they make in Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela— so you can help reduce carbon emissions and make our country more energy secure and create jobs and lower the price of gasoline all at the same time."
"Biden keeps saying no, and that’s why I think people are so angry because, they know it didn’t start with Putin—it started with Biden," Scalise said. "When he said no to Keystone, said no to new oil and gas leases, and ultimately started enabling and strengthening the hand of dictators around the world."
Scalise also reminded that "America was actually reducing our carbon emissions during the Trump years while being energy dominant, producing our own energy and exporting it to the world, because we do it cleaner and better than anybody else."
Shifting to China, Scalise said Beijing is "building a new coal plant every week, they’re laughing all the way to the bank,"
"All this as America embraces things like the Paris Accord and the Green New Deal and every other nutty far left policy that is resulting in more carbon emissions globally and more dominance by dictators," Scalise said.
"Let’s bring that energy production back to America, stop beating up on America, because we do it better than anybody else in the world— and if they don’t recognize that, they need to review the science because the records are real clear," Scalise said.
He added: "You want to save the planet? Make more things in America."
Should Republicans take back the majority in the House of Representatives after the midterm elections, Scalise vowed to move bills through Congress that "will open up American energy and undermine people like Putin and any other dictator who uses energy as a weapon against us and our friends around the world."