US House passes amended energy policy bill, sets up joint conference

The US House approved an amended version of energy policy reform legislation that the US Senate previously approved, setting the stage for a joint conference to reconcile differences and prepare a final version that would be sent to US President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The amended Senate bill passed on May 25 by 241 to 178, largely along party lines. Eight Democrats joined Republicans in supporting its passage, while six Republicans joined Democrats in opposing. Fourteen members—six Republicans and eight Republicans—did not vote.

“It has been nearly a decade since we last considered an energy package like this,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said as final debate began. “This has been a multiyear, multi-Congress effort, and a lot of work has gone in to make sure that the bill that we put forward to support the future of American energy is truly comprehensive.”

The amended measure includes elements from HR 8, which Upton initially introduced in December 2015, that include streamlined federal reviews for proposed interstate natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas export facilities, and protections for critical energy infrastructure from extreme weather and cyber threats.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the committee’s Ranking Minority Member, disagreed. “This 800-page hodgepodge of Republican and corporate priorities is nothing more than a majority wish list of strictly ideological bills, many of which the minority party opposes and the Obama administration and the American people do not support,” he said.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) appointed Upton and 12 other Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans to help lead House negotiators in the upcoming conference with the Senate, the committee announced on May 26. They include Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (Ky.), Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John M. Shimkus (Ill.), and Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-Tex.).

“This effort is about jobs. It’s about keeping energy affordable. It’s about boosting our energy security, here and across the globe,” Upton said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and my friends across the aisle to enact meaningful reforms that truly make a difference for folks in Michigan and across the country.”

An American Petroleum Institute official promptly applauded the House’s action. “Today marks another critical step by Congress to enact a comprehensive energy package that reflects America’s new energy reality,” API Executive Vice-Pres. Louis Finkel said on May 25. “The US is now the world’s leading producer of oil and gas, and we need a forward-looking energy policy if we are to remain an energy superpower and maintain global competitiveness.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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