Wednesday, March 16, 2011

House Committee Approves H.R. 910; Senate Offers It As Amendment

Mar 15: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Chaired by Chaired by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) with Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) approved the controversial Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910) sponsored by Chairman Upton [See WIMS 3/4/11]. The final vote on the amended bill was 34-19, with all Republicans and three Democrats voting for the approval. The three Democrats voting for the bill included: Representative Mike Ross (D-AR), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and John Barrow (D-GA). Chairman Upton said, "The bill will stop "EPA's controversial backdoor climate change agenda" which "would further drive up the price of energy for American consumers and job creators at a time when gas prices are already spiking and job creation remains weak."
    Despite the defeat of several amendments offered by Democrats regarding U.S. EPA's findings on the science, causes and impacts of climate change, an amendment offered by Rep. Matheson on "the sense of the Congress" was adopted by a voice vote. The amendment indicates:
 "It is the sense of the Congress that— (1) there is established scientific concern over warming of the climate system based upon evidence from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level; (2) addressing climate change is an international issue, involving complex scientific and economic considerations; (3) the United States has a role to play in resolving global climate change matters on an international basis; and (4) [Congress should fulfill that role by developing policies that do not adversely affect the American economy, energy supplies, and employment.]" [brackets indicate an amendment to the Matheson amendment].
    On the Senate side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an amendment Tuesday to a pending small business bill being considered by the Senate that he said is "identical to a bill, sponsored by Reps. Fred Upton, R-MI, and Ed Whitfield, R-KY, that is being considered in the House Energy and Commerce Committee." According to Sen. McConnell, the bill would stop the Environmental Protection Agency's back-door national energy tax from taking effect." The amendment was originally introduced as a stand-alone bill (S.482) by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee [See WIMS 3/4/11]. That bill has 43 co-sponsors including one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). In addition to Inhofe, McConnell was joined by two other senators who he said have taken a leadership role in the issue -- Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R-WY), Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference.
    Sen. McConnell indicated that the "unprecedented EPA regulations, designed to regulate carbon emissions from farmers, manufacturers and power plants, will lead to higher gasoline, grocery, electricity and natural gas prices, while stalling economic and job growth." He said, "These new regulations would destroy jobs at a time when Americans need them most. And they'd be especially devastating for states like Kentucky and other coal states. They're attempting to do through regulation what they couldn't do through legislation -- regardless of whether the American people want it or not. This is an insult to the millions of Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet or find a job."
    According to Capitol Hill reporters, "Reid attacked the block-EPA plan but said he would allow the amendment to come up for a vote." Reportedly he told reporters in the Capitol, "The Senate [small-business] bill creates jobs, and I don't know why they would want to divert attention from that. We will debate it, we will have a vote on it in due time. It is something that I don't favor, I think his amendment is very, very misguided."
    Sen. Inhofe commented on the Senate amendment and said, "The Energy Tax Prevention Act would end EPA's backdoor cap-and-trade agenda. That agenda is designed to make gasoline and electricity more expensive for consumers, families, farmers, truckers-essentially anyone who fills up or flips a switch.  It's also designed to restrict the supply and block the production of America's vast energy resources, which are the largest on Earth. Today was a wake-up call to my colleagues: we have legislation before us to help keep energy prices affordable.  Now they have a choice: to support the Obama Administration's attack on affordable energy, which will bring fewer jobs, a less competitive manufacturing sector, and a chronically sluggish economy, or vote for the Energy Tax Prevention Act to grow the economy and protect small businesses, manufacturers, and consumers from higher energy prices."
    Access the Republican markup website for amendments, votes, webcasts and statements (click here). Access the Democrats markup website for similar information and submitted opposition letters (click here). Access a release and comments on the amendment from Sen. McConnell (click here). Access a release and comments on the amendment from Sen. Inhofe (click here). Access The Hill report on Senator Reid's comments about the amendment (click here). Access legislative details of H.R. 910 (click here). Access legislative details of S.482 (click here).
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