Republican: Oil export supporters close to Senate passage

Republican: Oil export supporters close to Senate passage

The Republican sponsor of a House bill ending the 40-year-old crude oil export ban offered an upbeat assessment of the measure’s chances in the Senate on Friday. 

Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonGOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) has said he wants to pass a “clean bill” lifting the ban with as few unrelated provisions attached as possible, even though many Senate Democrats say they want a compromise package before they could support the measure. 

ADVERTISEMENT

But Barton said that, if the House’s 261-159 vote Friday to lift the ban is predictive, his Senate allies should be able to secure enough votes to pass their bill over a potential Democratic filibuster. 

“We had 60 percent vote in the House, if we get 60 percent in the Senate, we can do it as a stand-alone bill,” he said.

“Obviously that takes all of the Republicans and six Democrats. We don’t have six Democrats right now, but we’re in hunting range of them. We’ve got some members on the Democratic side that we think might [support the measure].”

The bill passed by the House on Friday included a boost in funding for shipping operators, but Barton has said he tried to keep it otherwise focused on simply lifting the export ban. 

Most Senate Democrats have so far opposed a push to lift the ban, but many have opened the door to some type of compromise package to get it through. 

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a Senate co-sponsor, said earlier this week that only two Democrats formally support her bill, though “many, many more” are interested in talking about a compromise. 

Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, said Friday that he’s optimistic about getting the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill.  

“I think we’ve got strong bipartisan support for lifting the export ban in the Senate, and I think that support is continuing to grow,” he said. “I think we’re on our way.”

Gerard said the API hasn’t taken a position on what a compromise package should look like. 

“I think at this point in time there are a lot of people staking out various positions,” he said. “I think there will come a time when leadership has to decide, and those decisions will have to be made by leadership.”

The White House came out against Barton’s bill earlier this week, arguing the president already has the power to issue oil export permits in limited circumstances.

Some House Republicans — including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — have said they’re bullish on the prospects of overriding a potential Obama veto of the legislation, though Barton acknowledged he would need to pick up dozens of votes to do. 

“I’m not going to predict that we can do it, I predict that we could do it,” he said. “You don’t do anything if you don’t think you can. I think we can do it.”