House advances anti-OPEC bill
After advancing a Yemen war powers resolution on Wednesday, Congress delivered more unwelcome news for Saudi Arabia today. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced a bill – dubbed “NOPEC” and introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio – that could open the OPEC oil cartel up to trust-busting lawsuits in US courts.
“Our nation’s anti-trust enforcers are unable to protect the American consumer and business from the direct harm caused by OPEC’s blatantly uncompetitive conduct,” committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said ahead of the vote. “NOPEC addresses these decisions by explicitly authorizing the Justice Department to pursue anti-trust enforcement actions against OPEC members should it choose to do so.”
Congress has repeatedly failed to pass the bipartisan bill since 2000 in the face of resistance from the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. But President Donald Trump himself endorsed NOPEC in his 2011 book “Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again.” Trump also accused OPEC and its member states of “ripping off the rest of the world” in his speech before the United Nations last year. And Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim told Al-Monitor as recently as December that the Trump administration shares the bill’s “sentiments” and “vision.”
But despite the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on oil price fixing, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Riyadh is considering an OPEC partnership with Russia. But other members such as Iran oppose the partnership.
- Bryant Harris