By Andrew Restuccia - 05/16/11 12:32 PM EDT
The proposal was bolstered by two reports — one from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service and another by the Joint Economic Committee — that say, contrary to claims by Republicans, the bill will not raise gas prices.
But the bill to repeal tax breaks will not lower gas prices either, Democrats acknowledge. And Republicans will continue to cast the proposal as a distraction at a time when gas prices are averaging about $4 a gallon in the United States.
The House is not in session this week. But a group of top Republicans is scheduled to embark on a tour of the Gulf Coast. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is taking the lawmakers on a tour of New Orleans and southern Louisiana Wednesday through Friday.
The tour will allow “members of Congress from around the country to get a first-hand view of the technology and innovation involved in exploring for energy safely in the deep water,” Scalise said in a statement about the tour.
The lawmakers will meet with offshore drilling workers and visit an offshore drilling platform, among other things.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.), Energy and Environment subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (Ky.) and Reps. Gene Green (Texas), Steve Womack (Ark.) and Steven Palazzo (Miss.) will join Scalise on the tour.
Back in the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will have a busy week of legislative hearings.
On Tuesday, the committee will hear testimony on four offshore drilling bills.
The first two, introduced by committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) last week, would impose more stringent drilling-safety standards and boost loan guarantees for a planned Alaska natural-gas pipeline.
A third bill would extend offshore leases for one year, and a fourth would establish an offshore leasing coordination office in Alaska.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the committee will hear testimony on more than two dozen energy bills, including a bill to promote electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday on the Energy Department’s fiscal 2012 budget request.
Off Capitol Hill this week, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will hold an energy summit on Monday and Tuesday. White House science adviser John Holdren, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and others will speak.
On Wednesday, Resources for the Future is holding a discussion with William Reilly, co-chairman of the national oil-spill commission.
Also on Wednesday, Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will talk about the “state of the oceans” during a discussion hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center.