Biden faces pressure to punish Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ cuts oil output


President Biden issued a vague warning to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday after the OPEC+ alliance of oil-exporting countries last week decided reduce oil production by 2 million barrels per day. Biden promised “consequences” and vowed to “take action” — but some Senate Democrats are demanding a quick, concrete response.

Lawmakers such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Bob Menendez have floated ideas including freezing arms sales to OPEC+ member Saudi Arabia and withdrawing all US troops from the country.

The OPEC+ move could push gas prices back up and increase Russia’s oil revenues. The national average for a gallon Wednesday was $3.92 — up nine cents over the past week.

White House officials lobbied OPEC+ countries not to cut.

“They are aiding and abetting the murderous, brutal war criminal Vladimir Putin,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Biden said Wednesday that he wanted to consult with Congress before deciding on any consequences. It’s a delicate situation, given that a rift in US-Saudi relations could also roil oil markets and boost prices in the month ahead of midterm elections.

Biden himself traveled to Saudi Arabia this summer, even punching Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, despite his alleged role in the murder by Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

But punishing Saudi Arabia would not be easy. CBS News Senior Security Contributor Mike Morell says many of the potential penalties have their downsides.

“Denying arms sales to Saudi Arabia not only hurts the American companies that sell those weapons, but it also hurts the security of the region because we want the Saudis to have American weapons,” Morell said. “They want to have American weapons because if we ever have to fight Iran together, we want these weapons systems to complement each other.”



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