inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Houlahan Introduces Bill to Stop Export of U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves to China

With America hit with record-high gasoline prices and rising inflation numbers, President Joe Biden said in March that he would do something. What did he do? Biden opened the floodgates of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR).

However, a big portion of that oil is not staying on U.S. shores. Instead, it’s flowing to China and Europe. To remedy that, Senators James Langford (R-OK) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Republicans introduced the No Emergency Crude Oil for Foreign Adversaries Act.

Now Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks)  has announced she will sponsor the House version of that bill to keep SPR oil in the U.S. instead of allowing it to be exported to countries such as North Korea.

“Like many, I was shocked to learn that a Chinese company was able to purchase oil from our Strategic Reserves,” said Houlahan. “When I called on President Biden earlier this year to release oil to help lower the cost of gas for Americans, I thought this oil would stay within our borders, where it belongs. Today we’re taking the first step toward closing that loophole.”

Republicans Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE) and Peter Meijer (R-MI), fellow members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, joined Houlahan in introducing the bill.

“What message are we sending to the world when we sell our oil to tyrants waging war on peaceful democracies?” said Bacon. “With inflation, fuel, and cost of living at an all-time high, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should not be serving our adversaries. We should be expanding American innovation and production here at home.”

Meijer said, “Drawing down our own strategic reserves and providing those resources to our foreign adversaries is both reckless and harmful to U.S. national security interests. Energy security is national security. Our strategic stockpiles should only be used to protect and secure U.S. interests, not to support foreign regimes that seek to undermine our country. I am proud to join this commonsense, bipartisan effort to prevent our adversaries from accessing these strategically important resources.”

Congress lifted a ban on exporting U.S. oil in 2015 but did not exempt the SPR, so that oil is also sold to the highest bidder.

Houlahan said a constituent she talked to at a town hall meeting urged her to do something about U.S. oil going to China.

“Rep. Houlahan is doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” a spokesperson said when asked if Houlahan is breaking with Biden on the issue. The bill Houlahan is sponsoring, “goes a little further. Both bills ban oil from going to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Our bill includes any other country that is being sanctioned by the U.S,” according to her spokesperson.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican running against Houlahan, said, “Of course, we shouldn’t sell our Strategic Oil Reserves to China: why was she asleep at the switch and allowing it in the first place?

“Worse yet, let’s not forget the only reason that our nation’s Strategic Reserve of oil is being used: Biden is using it for politics, not for its real use—war or natural disaster. Biden, Pelosi and Houlahan won’t allow American companies with American workers to produce as much American oil and gas as we can. If Houlahan wants to earn our praise—stop posturing with the press releases and photo ops: reverse your stand and work to get American energy out of the ground: to fight inflation, and improve our quality of life and national security.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Houlahan Can Handle the GOP; But Can She ‘Beat’ Joe Biden?

Chrissy Houlahan isn’t one to dish–or diss.

The soft-spoken suburban Philadelphia congresswoman professed there have been numerous occasions on which she has challenged the Biden administration and Democratic leadership.

She just thinks airing those conversations publicly is unproductive.

“If I am working on behalf of the people behind the scenes to make sure I’m having those hard conversations about what’s a bridge too far and what isn’t, I don’t want to have that in the press,” she says in an interview.

When asked what she thinks of her Republican opponent, Guy Ciarrocchi–whose old employer, the Chester County Chamber, once endorsed her–she released a lengthy sigh followed by a prolonged pause.

“I’m not a kind of person who likes to, you know, talk badly about people,” she allowed.

Houlahan may not need to get mean in order to secure a third term representing southeastern Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. In the Democratic wave midterm year of 2018, she flipped the seat by 18 points. In 2020, a cycle in which Republicans surprisingly made congressional gains even as President Donald Trump was defeated, Houlahan still cruised to a win by a breezy 12 points.

Of course, 2022 has the feel of the inverse of 2018–with summer flashes of a red wave coming this fall. 

But forecasters believe that for Houlahan to lose this district that runs from Reading through most of Chester County, the bottom would have to completely fall out for Democrats. The red wave would need to morph into a blood-red tsunami.

“Chrissy Houlahan is a strong incumbent,” said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst for Inside Elections, a nonpartisan outfit analyzing elections. “She’s got those national security credentials, she raises good money, and the district is one that not only has been very Democratic recently but one that has moved in Democrats’ direction.”

While DecisionDeskHQ’s current model gives Republicans a 90 percent chance of taking over the House, it gives Houlahan an even higher probability–94 percent–of retaining her seat.

Ciarrocchi–pronounced ‘Sher-Rocky’–maintains he can make the race competitive by showing Houlahan to be a representative who promised to be independent of her party but has voted in lockstep with the Biden administration.

“She hasn’t been an independent voice. She’s not once challenged Joe Biden, not once challenged Nancy Pelosi, not once challenged Tom Wolf,” he said. “This race will be competitive because Chrissy Houlahan has been a 100 percent supporter of Joe Biden’s policies and Joe Biden’s policies have brought us the worst economy in nearly 50 years, made our urban areas unsafe, brought fear to the suburbs, and there’s not a sense that it’s going to get better, in fact, there’s a sense that it’s going to get worse.”

But at the moment, national Republicans appear to be most focused on taking out Reps. Susan Wild in the neighboring 7th Congressional District and Matt Cartwright in the 8th. There is also the open seat of retiring Rep. Conor Lamb in western Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District that has become a top-tier contender for a GOP pick-up.

Those trio of Pennsylvania seats all sit inside considerably more favorable turf for Republicans; whereas Houlahan’s 6th was largely untouched by redistricting, keeping intact a purple-minded constituency that is roughly evenly divided by party, with a healthy share of independents.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano could also potentially be a drag at the top of the ticket in suburban communities that have little appetite for culture warfare. Ciarrocchi said he had not decided on whether he would vote for Mastriano himself.

“I hope to be able to vote for Doug Mastriano this fall. We’ll wait and see. But I can tell you for this, there’s under no circumstance am I voting for Josh Shapiro,” he said.

Sitting inside the Philadelphia media market also makes the race pricier for outside GOP groups and Ciarrocchi, who only reported raising $181,000 during the last fundraising quarter with $193,000 cash on hand to spend.

Compare that to Houlahan’s $5.5 million war chest for the final three months of the race and the price of Ciarrocchi’s climb looks expensive especially when Republicans have so many other more enticing options on the board.

“We’ll see if they actually compete. Will American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund come in and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars here?,” asked a Democratic operative tracking the race, referring to the major outside GOP super PACs.  “I think she survives the storm no matter how bad it gets.”

A passage from the book “This Will Not Pass” includes a scene of Houlahan pushing White House officials for more bipartisanship last spring.

“We need to have the opportunity to be able to show the American people that we aren’t just working with our side of the bench, but that we’re working with everybody,” she was quoted telling Biden officials. 

But she was not enthusiastic about elaborating on that interaction.

“I don’t want to have those conversations on Twitter. I think that’s part of the problem with the country is that we are so provocative that it’s impossible for us to get along with one another,” she said. “I’m trying really hard to reset that – not only in our community – that sense of civility and decency but also in Washington, that sense of trust and respect.”

If the national environment deteriorates further for Biden and the Democrats, Houlahan may have to recalibrate her thoughts on demonstrating her independence more forcefully.

Ciarrocchi is going to attempt to make the case that her reticence is part of the problem. 

“It goes beyond the, ‘did you vote with?.’ It’s ‘did you speak out against?” he said.


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

As Military Struggles to Find Recruits, DelVal Pols Tout the Benefits of Service

David Galluch

When the colonists declared their independence from Great Britain 245 years ago, citizens rallied to form the first Continental Army led by Gen. George Washington.

Since then, many citizens have answered the call to serve in the military, and the benefits of that service can last a lifetime.

Today, however, the U.S. military is struggling to attract recruits. And the number of people in the key age demographic for enlistment who can meet minimum requirements is shrinking.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Congress in April only 23 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are qualified to serve, down 29 percent in recent years. And NBC News reported only 9 percent of those eligible would even consider joining, the lowest number since 2007. All branches are struggling to meet their recruitment goals.

“We recognize that we are in a very challenging recruiting environment, in competition with our fellow services and the private sector for the top talent we need to serve as the next generation of Navy leaders and warfighters,” said Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, director of public affairs for the Navy Recruiting Command.

The Navy’s goals for fiscal year 2022 recruits are 33,400 active enlisted service members, 7,400 reserve enlisted, 2,468 active officers, and 1,350 reserve officers, he said.

An Army spokesperson said, “This is the most challenging recruiting market in the last 20 years. In FY22, Army recruiters are facing a tight labor market, a decrease in the propensity of the American population to serve, and a shrinking pool of qualified military applicants.”

In a 2021 survey, the Army found 75 percent of today’s youth (16 to 28 years old) know little to nothing about the U.S. Army. Its Enterprise Marketing Office (AEMO) has two new creative campaigns running now to generate awareness among young people and to address the common misperceptions about the Army lifestyle, as well as motivate receptive prospects.

Both the Army and the Navy are offering incentives to join.

But beyond the immediate satisfaction of meeting a challenge and serving one’s country, the benefits of joining the military can last a lifetime.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

“I grew up in a military family, moving nearly a dozen times before I graduated high school,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), a third-generation veteran who served in the Air Force. “But when I was old enough, I decided to raise my right hand, too—in large part because my father and grandfather both instilled in me the value of serving our country in uniform.

“There’s a saying in my family to be of our’ highest, best use’ whatever that may hold. I know there are many young students and Americans out there wondering what their highest, best use is right now, and I hope they’ll consider a career in the military. It provided me the discipline, work ethic, and degree (thanks to ROTC) to pursue careers in business and non-profits after I separated from the service.

“Now, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m working incredibly hard to make sure our service members and their families are taken care of,” said Houlahan. “In fact, I’ve led efforts to improve pregnancy care for our servicewomen, provide paid family leave for all in uniform, increase pay, and more. To anyone out there considering serving in uniform, please know we will be stronger as a nation and a world should you choose to be part of the greatest military in history.”

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) went to Duke University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, then joined the Marines. Both his father and stepfather flew Cessna O-1 Birddogs as forward air controllers during the Vietnam War, so he grew up “steeped” in the lore of the military and living on Air Force bases.

He joined the military because “it was a family tradition of service to our country,” he told Delaware Valley Journal.

During Operation Desert Storm, Williams also flew 56 missions piloting F-18s (the same plane featured in the movie “Top Gun Maverick”) and “did the exact same mission, forward air controller, as my dads did in Vietnam. Williams was “racing around the desert at 200-feet marking targets for bombers up at altitude.”

Rep. Craig Williams

After the war, he became a flight instructor at Pensacola, went to law school under a military program, and became a judge advocate general (JAG). Williams served as head prosecutor at Camp Pendleton and deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the War on Terror. He was the head prosecutor for the Marine Corps Reserves.

Williams, who was decorated for valor, retired from the military as a colonel in 2015 after 28 years of service. He served as a prosecutor in Denver and then came to Philadelphia to join his wife, Jennifer Williams, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

“I never see it as helping me,” he said. “I see it as duty to country.” But he adds the things he learned have helped with his career path and “helped form who I am, this person steeped in service and duty to something bigger than oneself and I try to teach that to my children.”

“I think all these things are very sweet,” he said. “The 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, for people who have been in combat, are particularly significant events.”

“I’ve lost friends in the service. I’ve lost my best friend,” he said. “It’s hard for people who haven’t served to understand.”

Sometimes hearing the National Anthem brings a tear to his eye.

“We recognize on Memorial Day people who have given their lives for us. The 4th of July is the same,” he said.

Dave Galluch, a Republican running for Congress for the 5th District in Delaware County, also has a family history of serving in the armed forces. Galluch attended the Naval Academy. He was later selected for Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal, a special operations job. He served in the Middle East and Somalia, where he was assigned to Seal Team Four.

“My family has a long history of military service,” Galluch said. “I’ve had relatives fight in every war in our nation’s history. They sacrificed for the things that are supposed to unite us all — the things that represent the best of who we are. I felt a weight to carry on their legacy and do my duty to my family and country.

“In the military, I saw the best our country has to offer and what we are capable of achieving when we realize we are stronger together,” said Galluch. “I learned how to lead, how to make tough decisions, and how to subordinate my own concerns to those of the men and women I was serving alongside.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick

“I don’t care what else I do or accomplish in my life. Leading our nation’s special operators in harm’s way will always be what I’m most proud of. My experiences in the military are central to who I am, how I view this nation, and what leadership is all about to me,” said Galluch.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Gilbertsville) said, “I initially joined the military as an enlisted medic as a way to pay for college. I found that I loved the structure and discipline of the military, and ended up going back to college and earning my degree. I spent 26 years in the U.S. Army, and my military service taught me so many life lessons—never give up, never ask your soldiers to do anything you wouldn’t do, always take care of your soldiers first, mentor and guide your soldiers to achieve their goals….are just a few. The military set me up for success as it gave me the groundwork to be a leader.”

Pennycuick is running for the 24th District state Senate seat now held by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Montgomery/Berks), who is retiring.


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or