A new bill has been introduced in the Senate which if passed would punish Saudi Arabia over failure to cut oil production by removing all US troops from the kingdom within 30 days.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced it after Louisiana and other states have been impacted by the ongoing OPEC+ crisis and price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. As of Friday OPEC+ appears to be closing in on a deal which would see a production cut of 10 million barrels a day, which S&P Global Platts still warned “isn’t enough to plug the 15- to 20-million b/d near-term imbalance in the marketplace and avoid tank tops in May.”
Sen. Cassidy’s bill would also impose tariffs on all Saudi oil imports within ten days of enactment, also aiming to ensure prices would not dip to below $40 a barrel.
“The extra oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has made it impossible for energy companies in the United States, the world’s top oil and gas producer, to compete, Cassidy said,” as cited in Reuters.
The Republican senator noted of the long-term close US-Saudi partnership: “Withdrawing troops placed to protect others recognizes that friendship and support is a two-way street.”
“Our nation’s economy, national security and the economic welfare of families across Louisiana is threatened by oil being dumped on the world market at below-production costs. The US spends billions protecting other oil producing countries and their ability to safely transport oil around the world. Now is the time to protect ourselves. Tariffs will restore fair pricing,” said Cassidy.
The bill would also ensure defense funds cannot go to maintaining American troops on Saudi soil.
Despite that the bill would face an uphill battle, also very unlikely to be signed into law by the president, it’s being taken as an early ‘threat’ from Congress, which will not meet until at least April 20 due to coronavirus self-isolation.
President Trump himself has recently threatened tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Russia, saying further he’s ready to ‘intervene’ if the crisis is not resolved in a way satisfactory to US producers’ interests.
Notably the Cassidy bill doesn’t take up the issue of US Patriot missiles or THAAD deployments in the region, which hawks have argued remains crucial to countering Iranian military expansion and threats to American interests and troops in the region.