Here are the House lawmakers who bucked their parties on the GOP’s flagship energy package
The House passed the Republican conference’s marquee energy package on Thursday, with four Democrats and one Republican bucking their parties on the high-profile vote.
The package, titled the Lower Energy Costs Act, cleared the chamber in a 225-204 vote. The conference labeled the legislation H.R. 1, signaling that it was their top legislative priority this Congress.
The measure, broadly speaking, is aimed at strengthening the production and export of fossil fuels, in addition to domestic mining. It also seeks to accelerate the approval process for energy and other infrastructure initiatives — commonly known as permitting reform — and it looks to repeal some programs that Democrats enacted in their sweeping climate, tax and health care package last year.
Despite the highly regarded H.R. 1 designation, however, Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) voted against the bill, making him the only GOP lawmaker to buck the party.
The Hill reached out to Fizpatrick for comment.
House Democratic leadership urged members of the caucus to vote against the marquee GOP bill, arguing that it would not lower energy costs. During debate, Democrats referred to the measure as the “Polluters Over People Act.”
Four Democrats, nonetheless, voted for the measure: Reps. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) and Jared Golden (Maine). Three of the four pointed to the permitting reform provisions when explaining their support for the package.
Gonzalez revealed on Wednesday that he would support the legislation when it came to the floor, writing in a statement that while the package was not “perfect,” it represents a “step forward,” citing the terms regarding the environmental review and permitting processes for energy projects.
“In order to fully realize the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, remain competitive on the world stage, and ensure the American people have access to safer roads and bridges and reliable and affordable energy, we must improve federal environmental review and permitting processes,” Gonzalez wrote. “While this package is far from perfect, it is a step forward.”
“I am hopeful that we can work in a bipartisan and bicameral way to make progress on this issue and deliver for our constituents,” he added.
Reached out to for comment on Thursday, Gonzalez’s office directed The Hill to Wednesday’s statement.
Perez told The Hill in a statement that she supported the package — despite calling it “flawed” — because of the permitting provisions. She specifically took issue with the terms that would roll back programs enacted in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress passed and President Biden signed into law over the summer.
The Washington congresswoman called on the Senate to “strip out the partisanship” from the package and work to come to a bipartisan consensus regarding clean energy.
“The reason I voted for this legislation is because we’re in desperate need of permitting reform,” Perez said. “So many of the solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and fusion projects we’re relying on haven’t been able to move forward because of a lack of transmission capacity. We need to get more power lines built, but these projects are too often delayed because of the regulatory mess of our current permitting process.”
“The bill is flawed – the repeal of the clean energy technology investments of the Inflation Reduction Act are counterproductive and impeding our ability to lead the world on clean energy innovation,” she continued. “But, it’s time Democrats and Republicans work together to lower energy costs for working people. The Senate needs to strip out the partisanship in this legislation and develop a bipartisan compromise that includes clean energy.”
Golden sounded a similar note in a statement to The Hill, labeling the permitting reform terms a “good first step” while calling the Inflation Reduction Act-rollback provisions “flaws.”
“The reforms outlined in HR 1 are a good first step toward creating a permitting process that cuts red tape, increases our energy capacity, and lowers energy prices at a time when our constituents are still facing sky-high costs,” Golden said.
“There are also a number of flaws in HR 1 that must be removed before this bill becomes law, namely the partisan roll back of many provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),” he continued. “Removing rebates that are going to help everyday Americans lower their energy bills by providing financial assistance for the installation of heat pumps, energy efficient wood stoves, windows, doors, and more does nothing to help lower people’s energy bills.”
The congressman called on the Senate to “take up permitting reform legislation and send the House back a bill that sets aside the partisan fights and focuses on a strong compromise that will be signed into law.”
“We must unleash the full potential of future investments in our nation’s energy and transportation infrastructure, ensure that the once in a generation investments that were made through the IRA and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law can be fully realized, and meaningfully lower energy costs for my constituents,” Golden added.
The Texas Tribune reported on Wednesday that Cuellar would vote in favor of the GOP-led bill.
The congressman told The Hill in a statement on Thursday that he supported the measure because it “will increase US domestic production, decrease reliance on foreign oil, and includes permitting reform to expedite production of oil and alternative sources of energy.”
“Additionally, this legislation lowers prices at the pump and protects the 40,000 oil & gas jobs in my home district,” Cuellar added.
He did, however, call it a “starting point” in its current form, adding “I am confident we can work with the Senate in bipartisan, bicameral fashion to craft legislation with broad support.”
— Updated March 31 at 4:38 p.m.
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