Oil Speculation Bill Defeated With Democratic Help

Posted July 30, 2008 at 4:14pm

House Democratic leaders watched another one of their touted energy bills go down on Wednesday, this time with legislation aimed at cracking down on oil market speculation.

By a vote of 276-151, the bill failed to secure the two-thirds needed to advance on the suspension calendar.

Sixteen Democrats voted against the bill. They included Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.), Artur Davis (Ala.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Nick Lampson (Texas), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.) and Anthony Weiner (N.Y.).

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) noted that, during the vote, the bill initially received more than enough votes to pass. But several GOP Members “switched votes at the behest of Republican leadership” in an effort to sustain a presidential veto threat issued earlier in the day, he said.

“Unfortunately, politics trumped the merits of this bill,” he said.

Asked why more than two dozen Democrats opposed the bill, Van Hollen said his Caucus is diverse and he would “have to talk to each of those Members” to understand why they voted against the bill.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said it is possible that Democratic leaders will try to bring up a version of the bill again on the regular calendar, where it will require a simple majority to pass.

“It’s clear the Republican leadership wants to block all attempts that don’t have anything to do with drilling,” Larson said.

A GOP leadership aide said their concern is that the bill “continues to skirt around the edges when it comes to finding a solution” to lowering gas prices.