Friday, October 07, 2005

Banana Republic

Things are getting testy down on the floor of the House of Representatives; via the AP (at NYTimes):

The House narrowly approved a Republican-crafted energy bill Friday aimed at encouraging construction of new refineries, although opponents said it would do nothing to ease energy prices while handing unneeded benefits to a profit-rich oil industry.

Supporters of the measure said that hurricanes Katrina and Rita made clear that the country needs more refineries, including new ones outside of the Gulf region. Critics argued it would allow the oil industry to avoid environmental regulations that would lead to dirtier air.

The bill passed 212-210. Its prospects in the Senate were uncertain.

The vote, which was supposed to be taken in five minutes, lasted more than 40 minutes as GOP leaders searched for the last two votes they needed to get the bill approved. They buttonholed lawmakers for last-minute lobbying as Democrats complained loudly that the vote should be closed. Finally two GOP lawmakers switched from ''no'' to ''yes,'' giving the bill's supporters the margin of victory.

''Is this the House of a Banana Republic?'' Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., shouted at one point, expressing his frustration about the GOP holdup of the final tally.

Think Progress adds this note (along with a handy QuickTime video of the proceedings):

As the vote concluded, opponents of the bill chanted in unity: “Shame, Shame, Shame!”

GristMill has some more details on the bill that was being voted on:

So, as we mentioned in the Daily Grist, the House voted today on Rep. Barton's Gasoline for America's Security (GAS) Act (gag on the Orwell, gag on it!). It's a big fat wet kiss to the energy industry, easing Clean Air Act provisions to streamline refinery development and codifying the President's ability to suspend clean-air standards in a state of emergency. It's a bunch of crap they couldn't get into this summer's already craptacular energy bill. To boot, yesterday the House Rules Committee blocked an attempt to include a provision raising CAFE standards.


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