Senate Democrats

Obstruction Alert: Bush-McCain Republicans Object to Six Different Efforts to Address America’s Energy Crisis

Washington, DC—This afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Senate Democratic Leaders asked unanimous consent to pass six bills designed to address the nation’s energy crisis.  Just as they have throughout the year, Bush-McCain Republicans said no, preferring to slow, stop and stall progress rather than help American families paying record-high energy prices. Below are Reid’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Ninety-two times this session, Senate Republicans have filibustered critical legislation.  That’s an all-time record – by far.  Nearly double the previous record.

“For those unfamiliar with the language of the Senate, a filibuster is a stall tactic.  It prevents us from even debating legislation.  A filibuster is not a ‘no’ vote.  We have no objection to Republicans legitimately opposing legislation and voting no.  A filibuster cuts off legislation before a vote can ever take place.  And most importantly, it cuts off negotiation and compromise. 

“Ninety-two times this year, Republicans have filibustered America’s priorities.  Republicans have shown no favoritism on whom their filibustering harms the most.  They have filibustered our troops, veterans, children, working families, small businesses, the elderly and the disabled.  Not a single American has escaped the harm of the Republican filibuster in the 110th Congress.

“But perhaps our country has been most damaged by Republicans blocking us from addressing the energy crisis.  If you only heard the feigned outrage of our Republican colleagues, you might think that it was Democrats who have spent the past two years blocking every effort to lower gas prices and reduce our dependence on oil.

“But the exact opposite is true.  Republicans may talk about high gas and oil prices now, but they are late to the party and they’ve shown up empty handed.  Their one idea – more coastline drilling – won’t have any significant impact on prices ever.  And that’s according to the Bush-Cheney Energy Information Administration.  It’s no wonder Senator McCain said the plan was purely psychological.

“This morning, Democrats will offer Republicans yet another chance to end their obstruction and do the right thing.  We will offer unanimous consent on seven energy bills.  This package of bills will lower the price we pay at the pump while planning for the long term transition away from oil and towards the clean, renewable fuels of the future.

“If past is prologue, Republicans will object to each of these proposals.  If they do – it will be clear for all Americans to see which party only wants to talk about our energy crisis, and which party wants to solve it.” 

Consents

1)      S.3044, the Consumer First Energy Act 

–         Ends the billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies.  Just today, Exxon Mobil announced all-time record quarterly earnings of nearly $11.68 billion.
–         Forces the oil companies to invest some of their massive profits in clean, affordable alternative fuels.
–         Protects the American people from price gouging and profiteering.
–         Stands up to OPEC and countries who are colluding to keep prices high.

2)      S.Amdt. 5135, the Bingaman Amendment

–         Accelerates oil production on the 68 million acres of American land that oil companies already lease but aren’t producing and opens new leases for production.
–         Directs the President to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is meant for times of energy crisis like this.

3)      H.R. 6049, the Renewable Energy, Job Creation Act of 2008

–         Provides tax incentives to private sector innovators who are researching and producing alternative energies from the sun, the wind, geothermal and other sources.
–         Helps save oil through incentives for alternatives fuels and advanced vehicles like hybrids.
–         Encourages energy efficiency investments so American can save some of the $325 billion we waste on energy every year.

4)      S.3268, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act

–         Stems the excessive speculation by Wall Street traders who buy and sell huge quantities of oil with no intention to use it, only hoping to bid the price higher and pocket the profits.

5)      3186, Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act

–         Funds the enormously successful LIHEAP program, which helps low-income families, the elderly and the disabled afford the skyrocketing cost of heating and cool their homes to stay safe in extreme weather.

6)      S.879 No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2007

–         Stands up to OPEC and countries who are colluding to keep prices high.

“The last few minutes have been a microcosm of the 18 months of Congress.  Time and time again, Democrats have offered solutions to our energy crisis.  Each time, Republicans have objected.

“They have not come to us with specific objections or tried to reach any sort of compromise.  They have just said no.  After a year and half of ignoring our energy crisis – and rejecting every Democratic effort to address it – Republicans now claim to have seen the light.

“Now, after a year and a half, all they want to talk about is gas prices.  But as we have just seen, all they want to do is talk.  When given a chance to actually get something done, they have run for the hills.  Democrats want to do more than talk.  We want to solve this problem.”

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