On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Situation Room,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) reacted to OPEC’s announced production cut by stating that President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia was a bad idea, and “I thought that we had to get much tougher with the Saudis.” And that “this move was done between MBS and Putin and others who want to affect the U.S. election.”

Host Pamela Brown said, “Congresswoman, what did President Biden get out of his fist bump with the Saudi crown prince, when the Saudi-led coalition is now going ahead with this major cut? I remember, at the time, you had expressed concern about him going to Saudi Arabia.”

Jayapal responded, “That’s exactly right, Pamela. That’s what I was going to say is, I never thought that was a good idea. I thought that we had to get much tougher with the Saudis. I didn’t think that going on a visit — if there was diplomacy to be had, perhaps it needed to be had behind the scenes. But we do have leverage with the Saudis. The Saudis do need us. My friend, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) is correct that the Saudis depend on us for a lot of support. But, in addition, we have tools within Congress, in terms of being able to, for example, repeal sovereign immunity, which the Biden White House made — they didn’t specifically say that, but there was some mention in their press release about being able to use some of the tools that Congress has to, for example, repeal sovereign immunity from antitrust legislation that would allow us to punish oil producers who try to manipulate prices for profit. And so, I think that these are some of the things that we have to look at.”

She continued, “Because it is clear to me that this move was done between MBS and Putin and others who want to affect the U.S. election. I just don’t see how else you can look at this a month before the election. But I also want to say, Pamela, that the other really important thing that I have been saying for a very long time, since gas prices started going up, is, this is why we need the transition to clean energy. We do not need to be dependent on these dictators around the world for production of oil. The sooner we make this transition, the better. … Let’s just be clear that the problem we have now is not that there [are] not leases out there. There are leases. They are not being utilized, for a whole host of reasons.”

Brown then asked, “What are the implications here, for Democrats, for the midterms, with gas prices going up now?”

Jayapal answered, “Well, obviously, it’s not good to have gas prices going up. However, I’m not sure that we will see the reaction so immediately. The President is going to release more oil reserves from the strategic oil reserve, more barrels from the strategic oil reserve. But, it’s obviously not good. We don’t like October surprises. And when the election is this close, I still believe that we have a very good shot of maintaining the House and hopefully expanding the Senate, but it’s close, Pamela. We all know that. And the idea that Putin…and MBS are essentially trying to interfere in our election through these actions using OPEC is extremely troubling, and we should all be concerned about their influence.”

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