By Ben Geman and Darren Goode - 11/18/10 05:02 PM EST
“The current administration has fallen asleep at the wheel in addressing the nation's energy needs and has taken a regulatory path that kills jobs and makes energy more expensive at a time when the nation’s families can least afford it,” said Upton, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“It is imperative to keep the energy and environment portfolio together under the roof of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to ensure we can stop the administration from regulating what they could not legislate. We all agree on an 'all of the above' approach to fortify our energy needs, but splitting jurisdiction weakens our hand to fight the EPA and the White House,” added Upton.
“I have contacted our newly-elected leadership team to ensure they understand what a disastrous decision this would be,” Upton said.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee who is battling Upton for the gavel next year, also pushed back against Hastings’s plan Thursday.
Another senior Republican on the energy panel — Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield — argued before the House GOP transition team that “Resources wants energy primarily because everyone wants on the Energy and Commerce Committee because it has broad jurisdiction,” he told E2 Thursday. “A lot of people don’t want to be on Resources, so if we move energy to Resources, then more people are going to wanna be on Resources. That’s a reason to do it. That’s not a good reason to do it.”
He also said it would start a domino effect, forcing Republicans to have to look at the duplicative jurisdiction of all the panels. “If they’re going to take a rifle shot like that, they would be irresponsible not to evaluate the entire committee jurisdiction system,” Whitfield said.
This includes Medicare being handled on both Ways and Means and the energy panel, as well as energy derivatives being under the jurisdiction of both the energy and agriculture panels, he said.
Hastings sent a letter to House Republicans Thursday touting his plan. The Washington Republican claims it would lead to more cohesive energy oversight, while leaving the Energy and Commerce Committee better positioned to fight the Democratic healthcare law.
Hastings has held conversations with GOP leadership about the proposal, an aide said.
A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who will be Speaker when Republicans take control next year — said Thursday that Republican leaders have not yet taken a position. Boehner spokesman Mike Steel added that there is precedent for removing some jurisdiction from Energy and Commerce to another panel, pointing out that when former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) took over the energy panel in 2001 he conceded some jurisdiction to then-Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio). That power grab though appears to be far more minor than the one Hastings is now trying to pull off.
This story was updated at 12:40 p.m.