House set to vote on sweeping energy package dubbed as Republicans’ top priority

The House is scheduled to consider a sweeping energy package — titled the Lower Energy Costs Act — on Thursday, setting up a significant test for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and his slim Republican majority. The package — also known as H.R. 1, a title usually given to Congress’ top-priority resolution — was introduced earlier this month by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and several GOP leaders of key energy-related committees. Republicans have argued the bill, which has provisions to boost domestic energy production, shore up critical mineral supply chains and reform existing permitting laws, would lower both gasoline and utility costs. “This is a great bill that we’re bringing to the floor just two days from now, where we’re going to show the country how we can actually become energy independent, how we can lower costs for families, combating the biggest threat to families, and that’s inflation,” Scalise told reporters Tuesday. “All of these bad policies that [President] Biden’s pushed the last two years have had a deep, deep negative impact on families in the form of higher prices,” he continued. “And there’s no reason for it.” SENATE VOTES TO OVERTURN BIDEN ECO REGULATION, TEEING UP ANOTHER LIKELY VETO Scalise noted that gasoline prices and household electricity prices have risen 40% and 20%, respectively, since President Biden took office in January 2021. Among its key measures, the legislation would eliminate new taxes on natural gas infrastructure, ensure regular oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, eliminate permitting hurdles to pipeline development, streamline duplicative regulations related to natural gas production and bolster the ability for mining companies to establish a stronger U.S. critical mineral supply chain. GOP OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO BIDEN ADMIN FOR OBSTRUCTING US ENERGY PRODUCERS WITH ‘RADICAL ECO-AGENDA’ Republicans have argued that current permitting laws have hobbled both fossil fuel development and green energy development. They have also blasted the Biden administration for restricting oil and gas drilling while shutting down mines that are home to key critical minerals needed for defense and energy technology. “President Biden has said he’s working to lower these costs, but his actions are drowning out his words,” House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., said Tuesday. “He’s waged war on American producers, shutting down oil and gas leasing, banning mineral development in certain areas, and insisting on keeping our federal regulations permanently stuck in the past.” “What are we getting in return? We’re getting more dependent on the worst polluters in the world while we wreck our own economy sending our wealth and jobs overseas,” he added. Another key provision of the bill would repeal the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund managed by the Environmental Protection Agency and introduced in the Inflation Reduction Act. The fund has been derided by Republicans as a giant handout to the green energy industry. MORE THAN TWO DOZEN DEMOCRATS JOIN GOP IN OPPOSING BIDEN GAS STOVE BAN The legislation has received resounding support from a wide range of conservative advocacy groups. More than two dozen groups led by Americans for Prosperity signed a letter on March 17 to McCarthy, urging him to fast-track the legislation. And the business industry, led by the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, has also gotten behind the bill. “Business Roundtable applauds House Republicans for prioritizing America’s energy security in their signature legislation. H.R. 1 would increase American energy production, reduce our reliance on energy from foreign countries, bolster the domestic critical minerals supply chain, and enable the U.S. to export more energy to our friends and allies,” Business Roundtable President Kristen Silverberg said this week. However, Democrats have taken aim at the legislation, which they have referred to as the “Polluters Over People Act,” saying it is largely a handout to the fossil fuel industry. They have also pointed to a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the bill would increase the deficit by $430 million over the next ten years. At least one Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, is expected to vote alongside Republicans in favor of the bill Thursday. On Monday, the White House also issued a statement of administration policy, stating that Biden would veto the legislation if it is passed in its current form.
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