By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican energy reform bill designed to boost U.S. oil and gas production while scaling back climate initiatives, the first major legislation by majority House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The House of Representatives passed the Lower Energy Costs Act by a mostly partisan vote of 225-204.
The bill would deliver on a promise made by the 2022 Republican campaign to reduce Americans’ energy bills, but has little chance of passing the Democrat-led Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has declared it “dead on arrival.”
“The Senate will not waste our time with legislation that will set America back decades in the clean energy transition,” Schumer said in a Senate speech shortly before the House vote. Democratic leaders in both houses have called the bill one that “puts polluters ahead of people.”
The White House has also said President Joe Biden would veto the measure if it made it onto his desk.
But the vote was a symbolic victory for McCarthy, who demonstrated his ability to hold together his slim 222-213 Republican majority as Congress looks ahead to bigger battles over the coming months over the $31.4 trillion US debt ceiling and funding prepared by the federal government.
Republican leaders secured passage after overcoming reservations from at least five party members, which would have been enough to block legislation.
The party’s disagreement over the House bill reflected in part gaping disagreements over how to streamline energy project permits, a goal otherwise shared by both Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats want a permit bill that paves the way for faster adoption of clean energy technologies like solar and wind power, which have received lucrative new subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act, while Republicans are pushing for a renewed focus on fossil fuels.
Republicans billed the legislation as a solution to high US gasoline prices, which would boost oil and gas production by reducing regulations, encouraging energy development on federal states and eliminating Democrat-imposed climate initiatives.
Democrats condemned the law as a giveaway to the oil industry. They warned it would also scrap a greenhouse gas reduction fund aimed at reducing pollution and creating green energy jobs, while also scrapping a program to reduce methane, which polluters are responsible for releasing of the greenhouse gas.
With the future of the bill in doubt, Republicans said they hope to include provisions from the legislation in any agreement with Biden and his Democrats to remove the federal government’s borrowing limit.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Moira Warburton in Washington, editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis)
Source : news.yahoo.com