Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Walz makes correct votes on Off-shore Drilling

Before the House passed H.R. 6899, the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act, it had to decide whether HR 6709, the National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act, which Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01) co-sponsored, should be considered. The vote to consider Walz’s bill failed.
Walz stood in opposition of the majority of Democrats and voted with a majority of Republicans to consider his bill. That failing, Walz voted with the Democrats to move forward HR 6899. It should be noted that Republican Jim Ramstad (MN-03) joined Walz in his support for HR 6899 while Republicans John Kline (MN-02) and Michelle Bachmann (MN-06) voted against drilling.

Is HR 6899 (the one that was approved) an inferior bill ?
Depends upon your viewpoint.
For those who have read my blog already realize that I do not oppose drilling, but want a fair return in royalty payments directed to the US Treasury and not to the bordering states. I also oppose subsidies for nuclear power and the oil industry.
HR 6899 is a narrower bill than some of the others being considered and meets my main objectives. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office report “enacting the legislation would reduce future budget deficits (or increase surpluses) by about $3.5 billion over the 2009-2013 period and by about $6.7 billion over the 2009-2018 period.” That’s good. It would repeal $18 billion in oil industry tax breaks and use the money to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. And it would force oil companies to pay additional royalties for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

What’s this mean ?
Not much … Walz’s bill is not dead, just that the House just determined that it wanted to move HR 6709 forward instead.
And more importantly, not much because the Senate must approve it. That is not likely since it has its own version of legislation it may consider plus the clock is running out on the session. Also, the White House has said it will veto HR 6899.

During the debate on Walz’s bill, Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat from Hawaii, spoke the truth blasting John Boehner, the Republican Minority Leader, and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, for both pushing legislation that could only be supported by a majority of their own political parties claiming that the bi-partisan HR 6709 that would generate the most support.

To me, Tim Walz and Jim Ramstad get a thumbs-up but Nancy Pelosi gets a thumbs-down.
For Tim Walz, this is just the first step. This bill was largely a to have Democrats go on record supporting some version of off-shore drilling. The Democrats who voted for HR 6899 have now voted for off-shore drilling. They cannot move back from that position. Next term, a more expansive bill ... possibly Walz's will be enacted.
For Jim Ramstad, this is just another example of a responsible Congressman who will be sorely missed in the 111th Congress.

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