House Passes Backroom Energy Bill (Update)

Democrats introduced a 290-page energy bill at 9:45 p.m. Monday night which passed 236-189 Tuesday evening — just over 24 hours after the bill was filed. The bill reportedly did not go through any committees or subcommittees, and Democratic leaders are not allowing a single amendment to be offered.

If passed by both houses, the bill would keep 80 percent to 88 percent of known domestic reserves permanently off limits. States would not receive any revenue by allowing offshore drilling, and electricity costs would increase and potentially double in certain states, Republican opponents say. There would be no drilling allowed less than 50 miles offshore — where experts predict 80 percent to 88 percent of America’s domestic reserves are located.

The bill also lacks litigation reform needed to ensure leases will not be tied up by environmentalist-driven lawsuits and makes no provisions for nuclear or clean coal energy.

Leaders of the Republican Revolt who have been fighting for a solution to America’s energy crisis are outraged. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said the Democrats’ position shifted from “drill nothing” to “drill almost-nothing” and called the bill a “charade” on the House floor.

“It is not a term that I use lightly,” Pence said, “My constituents are hurting. It’s a political press release masquerading [as legislation]. The American people deserve better than that.”

Pence said he asked Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina how likely his state would be to allow offshore drilling if it did not receive any revenue.

“[He] laughed out loud,” Pence said.

About 150 Republicans were lined up to give the traditional one-minute speeches this morning when Congress opened, but at 10 a.m. the Democrats announced only 30 speeches would be allowed, reneging on an earlier understanding to allow an unlimited number of speeches. When House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) objected, they agreed to add 20 minutes to the allotted time, meaning only 50 Republicans’ voices were heard.

“Bring a full and fair debate to this floor, and we will achieve a bipartisan result,” Pence said.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Pence said he and other leaders will fight to delay consideration of the bill so that the American people can see what the Democrats have placed on the table. Should the bill pass, however, Pence said the Republicans will use every moment between now and Election Day to show the American people that at least one party cares about America’s energy interests.

“We’re going to continue to battle,” Pence said.

You can see the final roll call from Tuesday’s vote here.