House moves one step closer to lifting ban on crude oil exports

House moves one step closer to lifting ban on crude oil exports

The House Energy and Commerce Committee took a major step Thursday toward allowing crude oil exports from the United States.

Three Democrats joined all of the Republicans on Thurday in voting for a bill that would lift the decades-old ban on exports. The tally was 31-19.

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The vote sends the legislation to the full House for final passage, something that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said would happen in the coming weeks.

Republicans said the bill would benefit the economy, jobs, national security and other areas, while most Democrats decried it as a giveaway to oil companies that would threaten energy prices.

“America wins when we support free trade and open markets, and this bill would lift the 40-year-old restrictions on oil exports that President Ford signed into law in 1975. Much has changed since 1975 when these restrictions were imposed but the dramatic growth in domestic oil output over the last decade has flipped the script,” said Rep. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonDems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Mich.), the committee’s chairman.

“Creating jobs, keeping energy affordable, boosting energy production, and improving our energy security — these are all important to folks in Michigan and across the country and a bill that accomplishes all four is worthy of all our support,” he said.

Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonConservatives blame McCarthy for Twitter getting before favorable committee Worst-case scenario for House GOP is 70-seat wipeout Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor, said the United States needs the ability to take advantage of increases in international oil demand, and that domestic producers are uniquely able to do that if the export ban is lifted.

“If we don’t lift the restrictions on crude oil exports, we cannot utilize our strategic advantage in oil production,” he said.

Reps. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenLatina Leaders to Watch 2018 Overnight Health Care: Big win at Supreme Court for anti-abortion centers | HHS chief grilled on migrant children | Boom time for ObamaCare insurers? The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Washington grapples with civility, protests in charged political times MORE (Texas), Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Toyn Cardenas (Calif.) were the only Democrats voting in favor of the measure.

Other Democrats said last week that they had hoped to negotiate changes that would allow them to support the bill, but most did not have their concerns met.

“H.R. 702 is a blunt object with broadly undermines 40 years of protections for national security, our economy, consumers and the environment. This bill looks backwards, rather than even considering the possibility of new energy solutions for our nation’s future,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the panel’s top Democrat.

The committee only passed one amendment to the bill through a voice vote. The amendment, from Green, says that the president retains his ability to stop oil exports for national emergencies, severe supply disruptions or for other purposes, similarly to nearly every other commodity that is exported.

President Obama is likely to threaten to veto the bill.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week that the Obama administration supports the current export restrictions, which the Commerce Department has the authority to ease, and opposes the House’s bill.