House OKs U.S. Oil Exports Despite White House Veto Threat
Despite the threat of a White House veto, the House has approved a bill to lift a 40-year-old ban on exports of U.S. crude oil.
The measure, approved on a vote of 261-159 with 26 Democrats joining Republicans in backing the bill, includes a Republican-sponsored amendment blocking crude exports to Iran. The bill now heads to the Senate, where prospects are uncertain.
Lifting the export ban, supporters said, would strengthen national security and weaken economic and political rivals such as Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.
The White House called the bill “unnecessary,” arguing that a decision on whether to end the ban should be made by the Secretary of Commerce, not Congress.
Instead of lifting the export ban, the House of Representatives “should be focusing its efforts on supporting our transition to a low-carbon economy” and scrutinizing “billions of dollars a year in federal subsidies to oil companies,” the White House said in a statement.
Democratic opponents said the bill would only benefit big oil companies at the expense of American consumers.
The House vote, said, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida) is “an unconscionable giveaway to Big Oil,” while Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said it “would boost annual profits for major oil producers by nearly $30 billion over the next decade.”
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) countered, arguing that an ongoing boom in oil and gas drilling has made the ban counter-productive.
“Times have changed and U.S. policy should embrace a new reality of energy abundance,” said Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “While the [Obama] administration claims to support an all-of-the-above energy policy, their actions don’t match the rhetoric.”