Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Senators Continue Snarl Over Energy & Climate Legislation

Jun 10: Within minutes Senate Republicans voted to reject cloture motions (requiring 60 votes to proceed) on two major energy bills -- S. 3044 (Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008), rejected 41-53 (6 not voting); and H.R. 6049 (Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008), rejected 50-44 (6 not voting). H.R. 6049, introduced by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) on May 14, passed the House on May 21, by a vote of 263-160. The S. 3044, introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with 22 cosponsors, included a windfall profits tax on oil companies, a roll back of tax breaks for oil companies, consumer protections from price gouging, and provisions to stop market price speculation and to stand up to OPEC. The latest Senate standoff follows last week's failed attempt to consider S. 3036, the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (See WIMS 6/6/08]

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a cosponsor of S. 3044, rebuked Republican members of the Senate who blocked the debate and said, "With prices well over four dollars a gallon, residents are wondering how they are going to afford groceries, support their businesses, and afford their mortgage payments. They are looking for help, and they are looking to Congress for action. My colleagues and I have introduced legislation to reverse seven years of the Bush Administration’s big oil-friendly economic policies, address the underlying causes of high energy prices and begin the process of getting the federal government to back consumers in this energy crisis.

"Unfortunately, today Republicans chose to stick by big oil and tell us that they’re content with the status quo by blocking this legislation. By doing so, Republicans have once again shown that they will choose obstruction over progress, even when it comes to the most important issues Americans face. I have no doubt that the Republicans who blocked this bill today are hearing the same things in their home states that I'm hearing in mine - angst and anger from people who are working hard and still struggling to get by. It's time for them to listen to their constituents, join with us to address the problem, and end the politics of obstruction."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement in response to Senate Republicans blocking consideration of the two bills saying, “Senate Republicans have once again shown themselves to be unwilling to break free of the costly, failed Bush energy policies of the past. They have again adopted President Bush’s ‘drill and veto’ policy that is driving up the price of oil, diesel, and gasoline and leaving us dangerously reliant on Middle East oil. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Senate Republicans have shown no leadership on energy issues for seven years, which is why we face a growing energy crisis. If Republicans will not lead us to a cleaner, more independent energy future for America then they should at least get out of the way. The House will soon put forward new, innovative legislation to help tackle high energy costs and make us more energy independent.”

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee issued a statement on the S. 3044 vote saying, “After spending last week debating a bill that all independent studies agree will increase the price of gasoline, Senate Democrats today tried to force debate on a different bill that the independent Congressional Research Service says will increase the amount of oil we need to import and have 'several adverse economic effects' -- with the same failed result. At some point, I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will get the message. The American people don’t want higher prices. The bill we considered today would have imposed a 25 percent “windfall profits” tax on American oil companies. The windfall profits tax has been tried before in our country and failed miserably. It did nothing but decrease domestic production and increase gas prices. . . How high will the price of gasoline need to go before we tap into our own natural resources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil?”

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized the Democrats Consumer First Energy Act as a “No” Energy bill. Senator Inhofe voted against cloture and said, “Here we go again. As the price of gas at the pump continues to go up, Democrats are proposing yet another energy tax,” Senator Inhofe said. “The Democrats don’t appear to have learned anything from their stunning defeat of their climate tax bill last week, which over 20% of Democratic Senators could not even support. This week their attempted ‘solution’ to our energy challenges is to raise taxes again and further harm American families."

Access the cloture roll call vote and link to legislative details for S. 3044 (
click here). Access the cloture roll call vote and link to legislative details for H.R. 6049 (click here). Access the complete statement from Senator Murray (click here). Access the complete statement from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access the complete statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access the complete statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]