Aug. 11 — Previously passed legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, expanding access to oil production on federal lands and limiting environmental regulations will be included as part of a “consolidated energy package” that will be considered by the House in September, according to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Those measures are among the 43 House-passed pieces of legislation that Republicans say are lingering in the Senate without a vote. The energy package, expected to pass the House, has little chance of passage in the Senate but could serve as helpful messaging in the upcoming midterm elections.
“House Republicans have sent numerous energy bills to the Senate,” McCarthy wrote in a memorandum to House Republicans. “It is time to hold Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats accountable for their refusal to support lower energy prices and American job creation.”
McCarthy's office wasn't available to comment on which specific measures would be included in the new energy package.
Among the measures likely for inclusion in the package is Rep. Lee Terry's (R-Neb.) Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3). That measure, which passed the House on a 241-175 vote in May, would eliminate the need for a presidential permit for the northern segment of the project.
Another potential inclusion in the consolidated bill is the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act (H.R. 4899). That bill, sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), would expedite permits for drilling on federal lands and expand offshore oil and gas exploration.
The House passed the bill on a largely party-line vote of 229-185 on June 26.
Several bills included on the House Republicans' list of those “stuck” in the Senate aim to ease environmental regulations. One of those, the Energy Consumers Relief Act (H.R. 1582), would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing final rules estimated to cost more than $1 billion if the Energy Department determines that the rule would cause significant adverse effects to the economy.
That bill passed the House in August 2013.
H.R. 1582 may be an attractive target for Republicans to include in the energy package because its sponsor, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), faces a competitive race for Louisiana's Senate seat against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Cassidy has tried to highlight his support for less burdensome regulations on the state's oil and gas industries.
One additional subject area not specifically addressed in the memorandum but highlighted in the list of bills “stuck” in the Senate is California's unprecedented drought. McCarthy personally introduced legislation (H.R. 3964) along with two other California Republicans to address the crisis, and it passed the House in February.
The Senate has passed its own version of the legislation and both chambers are attempting to resolve differences in the packages. The House package, criticized by the state's governor and senators, would roll back certain environmental laws while enabling greater quantities of water to flow into the parched San Joaquin Valley in California.
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Majority Leader McCarthy's memorandum to House Republicans is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=aada-9mvpvm.
A list of the 43 House-passed bills highlighted by Republicans as waiting for a vote in the Senate is available at http://www.speaker.gov/jobs.
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