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Sen. Cruz on CNBC Calls on Saudi Arabia to Stop Flooding Oil Market, Driving Down Prices

March 31, 2020

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HOUSTON, Texas - As U.S. oil prices plunge to an 18-year low, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on CNBC's Squawk Box called on Saudi Arabia - a diplomatic and military ally to the U.S.- to act like our ally, not our adversary, and stop flooding oil market and driving the price of oil down in the midst of a global pandemic.

WATCH: Sen. Cruz Calls on Saudi Arabia to Stop Flooding Oil Market

As Sen. Cruz explained:

"[Stopping Saudi Arabia from flooding the global oil market] is a major priority, especially for my home state of Texas. If you look at what happened, right in the midst of this coronavirus crisis - a public health crisis that is dominating our focus and an economic crisis that is flowing from it, millions of people [are] losing their jobs - the Saudis and the Russians chose to take advantage of that crisis by flooding the market and driving the price of oil way, way down. And that was opportunistic. It was designed with a very explicit purpose that the Saudis are hoping to drive out of business American producers. And in particular shale producers largely in the Permian Basin in Texas and North Dakota. Although also in a number of oil-producing states across the country. That behavior I think is wrong and I think it is taking advantage of a country that's a friend."

Recounting a recent conference call with Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, Sen. Cruz said:

"A couple of weeks ago I joined with a total of 13 Senators in a letter to the Saudi ambassador, calling on the Saudis to pull back and allow the price of oil to stabilize. To stop trying to drive it down artificially low. We did a conference call with the Saudi ambassador. Nine of the 13 did a conference call. That [...] was as candid a call and direct a call as I've ever had with the foreign leader. Where the nine of us, we quite frankly unloaded on her. And their defense was essentially, ‘but Russia's doing this.' My response was, ‘that's fine. Russia is not our friend. We treat them accordingly. We are aware their intentions to us are maligned. The Saudi kingdom is supposed to be our friend. We are a military ally. We are a diplomatic ally. You are not behaving like a friend when you are trying to destroy thousands and thousands of small businesses all across Texas and the country."

Explaining the consequences of Saudi Arabia's continued efforts to drive down oil prices, Sen. Cruz added:

"The Senators on the call with the ambassador urged vigorously, and we said, ‘There are a whole series of steps we can take to escalate foreign policy pressure.' We outlined a number of them. ‘If you continue engaging in economic warfare against the United States. Trying to drive down the price of oil in order to exploit this coronavirus crisis to drive a bunch of American producers out of business.' I'm hopeful the President will echo the same message. I'm hopeful the Saudis will hear it. Those 13 senators were not only the strongest champions of energy and oil and gas, but those 13 senators have also historically been the strongest allies in the Senate of Saudi Arabia. And if they don't change their course, the relationship with the United States is going to change very fundamentally."

Sen. Cruz also discussed the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. Watch the full interview here.

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