Gas prices spark partisan debate in Congress
May 5th, 2011
04:31 PM ET
4 years ago

Gas prices spark partisan debate in Congress

Washington (CNN) – Four-dollar-a-gallon gas sparked a partisan and predictable debate on the House floor Thursday about legislation Republicans argued would reduce prices at the pump by promoting more domestic energy production.

The GOP bill, which passed 266-149, is named the "Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act" and directs the Obama administration to move forward with leases for drilling in areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia that were already approved but were suspended after the BP oil disaster last year.

"Let's send a signal to the international markets that America is serious about becoming less dependent on foreign oil," said Washington Rep. Doc Hastings, who sponsored the bill.

But Democrats used the debate as a chance to bash one of their favorite political targets: "big oil."

Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey unveiled a chart on the House floor that featured a large picture of an oil rig on top of a mock up of a Medicare card, arguing Republicans were protecting energy companies at the expense of health care for seniors.

"The Republicans are building a pipeline into the pocketbooks of our seniors so they can pump them dry. No money for Medicare but plenty of breaks for the oil companies," Markey said.

Democrats used a procedural move to force a vote on a measure that would repeal tax breaks for energy companies. The vote failed, but it allowed the Democrats' campaign arm to target Republicans in swing districts as siding with oil companies.

"Representative Bobby Schilling today chose taxpayer funded giveaways for big oil companies making record profits rather than doing what's right for folks squeezed by high prices at the pump," said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House GOP Leaders scheduled a vote for next week on another bill that would direct the Obama administration to include in its five year offshore leasing plan drilling in the areas with the most known oil reserves.

While Democratic leaders said they do support some more domestic production, they suggested other proposals would have a more direct impact on reducing gas prices. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that in addition to pushing for legislation to end tax breaks for oil companies, House Democrats will introduce a bill to tap into the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Speaker Boehner dismissed the Democratic proposals as not serious and said the energy crunch only got worse because Democrats failed to increase production when they controlled the House

"The same Democrats who've supported the EPA and supported cap and trade and everything that would lower the production and supply of energy now want to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is, therefore, a big emergency? What we ought to be doing is expanding American energy production," Boehner said.


Filed under: Congress • gas prices
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Liz the First

    Repubs will use every excuse to open up every last acre of land in the world to drilling and destruction in a shortsighted pursuit of a finite resource instead of pushing for r&d on renewables that will be with us, providing clean energy, forever. how stupid can a group of people be? these fools know nothing of how the natural world works and don't care that their policies are destroying our home. and they call themselves Christians and think nothing of destroying God's greatest gift to us. how sad.

    May 5, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    The Democrats will NEVER support expanded off shore oil drilling. They'd rather we all ride horses and sacavenge for wood to keep warm in the winter. Their plans are windmills and solar, neither viable alternatives to fuel our vehicles. They need to rename their party to the Don Quixote Party if they continue this any longer. Democrats, they just want to turn back the clock to before the Industrial Revolution.

    May 5, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. diridi

    This I told you a week ago, once Bin Laden is killed by current adm. Gas is going to be way down...may be 20 dollar per barrel...o.k, true Saudi is manhandled to pump less and cut production by Laden., o.k, ....Obama is as of pride, I am telling our "The Best President". Listen to this smart educated and law grad...o.k, I am not telling my name...true...our nation, the USA is going to be stronger than "Ever Before". It is a mess caused by GOP thugs, esply, Reagan, and Bush....I do not have grudge on these two, I am only telling the truth...Obama is going to focus on Energy efficiency, and oil-independence, infrastructure, public transportation, strict immigration policies, etc, true....God bless Obama, the USA!!!!

    May 5, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. rs

    The oil companies are happy to keep things just the way they are. They hold tons of leases (they aren't drilling on); they get oodles of subsidies from the government, and; we're paying $4 a gallon. Ta-dah! Record-making profits (that go un-taxed). The only way Republicans will get them to drill or produce more is to stick guns in their ears. Remember the Republican oil men in the white House (Bush and Cheney)? They couldn't do a thing with them- just kept them rich and happy.

    In other words campers- If a Republican says they'll "make" oil companies "do something" you just gott know they are lying to you!

    May 5, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. ITALIAN NONNO

    Look,.. we get rid of Osama,.. now let's concentrate at dealing with the corporate terrorists known as Big OIL. The oil companies are practicing corporate terrorism at the pumps,.. against American consumers. Can someone please do the math, as to how much we're being gouged,.. and as consumers, let's launch a class action suit against these arrogant bandits.

    May 5, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Wes B.

    "The Day of Financial Reckoning" states that Dems want to turn the clock back.

    He/she couldn't be further from the truth. Dems are trying to bring this country forward! Dems are the ones pushing for alternative energy sources.

    Conservatives are the ones dragging their feet keeping this country from moving forward.

    May 5, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. barry

    Sack the Gop. Republican Wall Street loving,make the Oil Companies Richer,bunch of hippocrits" Obama will be the one who "Cracks Down" on these White collar criminals! And it won,t be soon enough before they "Tank" the country again!!!! Vote out Repubs! Break up "Big Oil"

    May 5, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Speculation on Wall Street. Until the dollar goes up. THE DOLLAR JUST WENT UP.

    BUT, even that can't keep the price up forever - prices have fallen below $100/barrel as of today. Another 10 cents came off the price at the local station where I live (it's now 3.69).

    The oil companies will get whatever they can. AND subsidies too. Face it folks - we can improve on the renewables we've started or the Middle East and Wall Street can continue to drain our wallets. I vote for improvement. In the mean-time, I have a beautiful Camry Hybrid (44 mpg on highway AND it does NOT accelerate randomly). I'll trade it for the latest and greatest when that happens. Use your head for something other than a hat-rack.

    May 5, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Booo...high gas prices

    I was speaking to a man who works for Valero Energy...he said that they say that the demand for the supply drives the gas prices up and use the excuse that they do not have the supply to satisfy the demand but in fact they have plenty of supply because the demand is down...he said that big oil companies has supply that they fdo not want to put into circultation so that they can justify more drilling and high gas prices...He also mentioned that the media only reports sweet oil barrel prices but not sour oil barrel prices...he said most of these big oil companies are producing gasoline from sour oil which can be almost a hundred dollars cheaper a barrel but they are selling it like it was made from sweet oil...I wouldnt put all of the blame on billion dollar profit driven oil companies but also on the idiot speculators that like to speculate on how much demand there will be in the future...We have to stop blaming the government for our gas prices (both parties) and out the blame on those who truly deserve it...

    May 5, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Vic of New York

    Isn't everyone tired of hearing these Repugs singing the SOS? Maybe someone will do an "Osama" on some of these Republican economic terrorists!

    May 5, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Given that the manner in which new oil production, no matter where it occurs, adds to the general world oil supply and then gets priced bears no direct correlation to the prices we see at the pump...at least nowhere near in the manner the GOP is selling based on their oversimplified misinformation-based ideological blather...it is fairly safe to say that any decrease in price at the pump that supposedly results from opening up more off-shore leasing and drilling is evidence that the oil industry was simply jacking up prices in order to extort more drilling licenses out of us.

    And "The Day of"...it's sad that you apparently don't really understand the anaology to be drawn with Don Quixote. The GOP is tilting at windmills by fighting off imaginary economic collapse, tax increases and energy cost inflation, using fabricated bogeymen in an attempt to force us to remain primarily reliant upon oil and petroleum products rather than exploring and encouraging viable alternatives, such as wind, solar and other sources. One might even go so far as to change it up a little and call the GOP the Sancho Panza to Big Oil's Don Quixote....lord knows they're really just sidekicks to their corporate puppetmasters.

    May 5, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Debra From Georgia

    I think this is the best President in American history, I will take him for 4 more years.

    May 5, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. ConservaFASCISTS -aka- Mammon

    I don't want to see oil rigs off the Virginia Beach coastline you republiFASCISTS. More drilling will not reduce gas prices. You must think people are really dumb. And most viewers of Fox News are. Look bozos! America has an OIL ADDICTION. Not just a foreign oil addiction, but an all out addiction. This country needs a serious intervention. That intervention is wind, solar, bio fuels, etc. Wight now, we're looking like Pookie in New Jack City willing to do anything for some crack. It's sad.

    May 5, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Kenny

    "Bonehead" Boehner and his fellow Republicans have been instructed by Big Oil to give them more power. Maybe we should send SEAL Team 6 after Big Oil and let Republicans know they are next in line.

    May 5, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. azmary

    O.K., oil fell about $10 per BBL today. Does anyone honestly think gas prices will drop at the pump tomorrow because of the oil drop? Speculation by oil traders drives cost and has no relatonship to current supply or demand, it is a bet they make as to where things may go to at some future date, and is tied to political and weather events. Right now U.S. refineries are not producing at capacity, (they are operating at 81%) and oil producers have a surplus of oil in storage. Even Saudi Arabia's offer last month to increase production by 200,000 bbls per day did not bring down gas prices. Getting more oil out of the ground will not decrease prices at the pump, it will probly just go into storage with the rest.

    May 5, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. mike

    who is really moving the price of oil thats what the morons in the congress should be asking because if it is done once and nobody takes action against it its going to happen again its not about the amount of oil that we need because if that was the case just look at the stock market that the oil companies took a hit on because they had to much oil at the refineries they couldn't move on the markets and wall street reacted

    May 5, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Ancient Texan

    The libs seem to think independence from oil is on the horizon for tomorrow. The wind and solar peojects have been in the works for years and supply 1% of our needs. Neither of those sources will power an automobile or truck or train. Plastics, fertilizers, medicines and many other everyday items include oil derivatives in their manufacturing. We need in the meantime to use our own resources to stop our dependence on people that hate us. Drilling where known oil reserves are is a way to hasten that day.

    May 5, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. anagram_kid

    It takes at least six months for crude oil to make it to the pumps. This is just postering for the conservative base and pandering to the Oil Execs.

    May 5, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. A Real American

    Hmmm. Oil just fell 8% today. Gosh, supply and demand works fast. NOT. It's all speculation and nothing more that is keeping the price high. And you still believe there is such a thing as a free market. Suckers.

    May 5, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. TALKing point

    Gas price go up, make the poor get poorer. I think they want to make the hard working america, low income people like myself suffer and get poorer and depend on government to hand out money. I really dont want it. just use the resource of what we have in our land and use it or lose it.

    May 5, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. The Greedy Oil Pigs have declared was on YOU!

    Once again the GOBPbaggers prove they care nothing about the poor and middle class, and are merely a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Oil. What a bunch of sorry Koch-heads.

    May 5, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Bill

    The amount of oil we could produce is barely a drop in the bucket compared to our daily consumption needs. The cost to pursue it outweights the benefit gained. End of story.

    May 5, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. david in seattle

    This is such a joike. And also you people who are siding with the Republicans. Data from the oil and gas industry itself shows gasoline demand has been dropping steadily in the US and production is up this year. THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF GAS. The prices are up because some people are stealing our gasoline dollars. And the Republicans are letting them do it by misdirecting our attention.

    May 5, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. vic , nashville ,tn

    Simple Repel the tax break for Oil Companies invest that money on green technology

    May 5, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. A Real American

    Ancient Texan, Domestic oil production hit a record high again last year. Supply is not the problem. Wall Street gamblers and banksters are the problem.

    May 5, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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