Congressional Democrats Push Back on GOP’s Energy Agenda

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer Says HR 1 Is 'Dead on Arrival'
fueling up
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As House Republicans prepare to consider a comprehensive energy proposal, the leader of the U.S. Senate insisted that the legislative package would not advance to the president’s desk.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took aim at a GOP energy and permitting measure likely to be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives before April. Democratic opposition to the package is specific to provisions Schumer’s caucus argues could exacerbate climate change concerns. The Republicans’ bill received the classification of HR 1, and is known as the Lower Energy Costs Act.

“I have been very clear about two things: Democrats want to see a bipartisan, common-sense energy proposal come together in Congress, but Republicans’ HR 1 proposal is dead on arrival in the Senate,” Schumer told colleagues March 21.

“Let me just repeat that so they hear it on the other side of the aisle: HR 1 is dead on arrival in the Senate. So you can do all the hoopla you want in the House, it ain’t passing. It’s not going to change a thing,” Schumer said.

Schumer’s viewpoint has been echoed by senior members of his caucus who also are endorsing President Joe Biden’s request to increase the budgets for federal climate change initiatives in fiscal 2024.

“I believe the president’s budget represents a brighter vision of the future of our nation — one that delivers on the promise of cleaner air and water in every ZIP code and better ensures that every American has an opportunity to live up to their God-given potential,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, this month. Senate leaders have scheduled myriad hearings for the purpose of examining the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request for federal agencies and departments.

House GOP leaders stress that the Lower Energy Costs Act is meant to facilitate access to domestic energy resources while also speeding up the permitting process for large-scale projects. Its floor consideration is expected as early as the week of March 27.

The bill is the culmination of three House committees’ legislative work. Key provisions include improving domestic energy production, reforming aspects of the permitting process for private sector industries, undoing certain policies applied by the Biden administration, expediting energy infrastructure and exports, and accelerating production of critical minerals.

“For the last two years, President Biden and his extremist friends in Washington have waged a war on American energy, and hard-working families across the country are paying the price. Gas and utility costs have skyrocketed to record highs, with the average American paying over 40% more for gas at the pump since President Biden took office,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said soon after the bill’s introduction. He is its lead sponsor.

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“I believe our best years as a country are still ahead, but we won’t get there by taking a back seat and outsourcing an ever-growing demand for natural resources to our foreign adversaries. We are taking back control, putting America first and unlocking access to the cleanest, safest energy production the world has ever seen,” added Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), a co-sponsor.

Senate Republican leaders joined their House counterparts in pushing back on most of Biden’s energy and economic policies. As Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) recently argued, “President Biden doubled down on his disastrous policies with his latest budget request. His radical, tax-and-spend wish list attacks American energy, wastes taxpayer dollars, and raises taxes on everyday Americans.”

Barrasso, ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, went on, “This president isn’t doing anything to lower sky-high prices or make life more affordable. Democrats must stop their attacks on middle-class families.”