House votes to end ban on oil exports

House votes to end ban on oil exports

The House on Friday approved a bill to lift the federal prohibition on crude oil exports. 

Lawmakers voted 261-159 to end the 40-year-old crude oil export ban, arguing that the measure is necessary to help prop up the American oil industry by allowing its product to hit the world market.

Lifting the ban, supporters argued, will increase the global supply of oil and lead to lower gasoline prices for American consumers. 

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“This bill is a market-based bill: willing-buyer, willing-seller,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said during floor debate on Friday.

“U.S. oil can go anywhere in the world if we allow it to. That is an economic asset, it is a military, strategic asset.”

Members approved a handful of amendments to the bill, including one noting the role that cutting oil consumption plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and another calling for a study on the role expanded exports will have on worldwide emissions. 

The House voted down an amendment designed to cut the bill's increased funding for certain unionized maritime shipping companies. 

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse votes to crack down on undocumented immigrants with gang ties GOP lawmaker taunts House conservatives: Trump’s base is not ‘small faction of obstructionists’ Overnight Finance: GOP plans to unveil tax framework in late September | Critical stretch for Trump tax team | Equifax CEO called to testify | Sanders unveils single-payer bill MORE (R-Mich.) said he opposed the provision because it was added just before the bill hit the floor this week. Conservative groups like Heritage Action had hit the provision as a "union buyoff."

The House’s Friday vote was the latest step in the lengthy congressional debate over lifting the export ban.  

Republicans broadly support lifting the ban, and 26 Democrats voted with them Friday to do so. Most, though, opposed Barton's bill, arguing that its economic impact is overblown and that it will endanger jobs in the refining sector. They also cite environmental risks in pumping more oil for exports. 

“This legislation eagerly embraces short-term profits and benefits without understanding — or even considering — the cost of such a major action,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said. 

“We can't afford to make that mistake. We should ensure we fully understand and consider the enduring consequences of our actions and choose the cleanest and most sustainable path forward.”

Other Democrats have said they are open to compromising on the issue, something the bill’s sponsors in the Senate — Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJustice Dept investigating Equifax stock sales: report Dem senator: Trump 'very serious' about infrastructure Trump steps up courtship of Dems MORE (D-N.D.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska) — have said they’re working toward

“Let’s put together a package that speaks to alternative energy continuity, that speaks to conservation, that speaks to a long-term strategy that is a win-win,” Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerHouse votes to block aircraft sales to Iran Expand the health savings account 'safe harbor' to reduce health costs Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers MORE (D-Ore.) said Friday. “If you’re going to hand out another goodie to the oil companies, let’s have a more comprehensive approach.“ 

The oil industry cheered the vote on Friday.

“Today’s vote starts us down the path to a new era of energy security, saving consumers billions and creating jobs across the country,” American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said in a statement. 

“American producers would be able to compete on a level playing field with countries like Iran and Russia, providing security to our allies and accelerating the energy revolution that has revitalized our economy.”