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House Republicans take victory lap after passing sweeping energy bill

The GOP’s retort to President Biden’s energy policy passed in a highly partisan vote Thursday morning.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Unconcerned about the president's threat to veto the measure if it also clears the Senate, congressional Republicans are celebrating the passage of a wide-ranging package of legislation they position as a foil to energy initiatives coming out of the White House.

The bill known as the Lower Energy Costs Act passed Thursday morning on a 225-204 vote in the Republican-controlled House, mostly along party lines.

“Today is a good day in America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said at a press conference. “[Republicans] made a commitment to America that we would lower your energy costs, and that’s exactly what this bill does.”

The California Republican, flanked by fellow lawmakers and workers wearing the uniform of Texas-based oil and natural gas company Encino Energy, framed the sweeping legislation as a gateway to unlocking domestic energy production.

McCarthy gave his Republican colleagues a pat on the back for passing the energy bill less than 100 days into GOP control of Congress’ lower chamber. “We’re just getting started,” the speaker said, urging President Joe Biden to sign the legislation.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican who sponsored the measure, said that it would serve as an antidote to high energy prices and inflation that he pinned on the Biden White House.

“This has never been a question about whether we have oil or natural gas in the United States of America,” Scalise said. “The question is, where do we get it?”

The majority leader railed against the Biden administration for canceling domestic energy projects and delaying permits for new oil and natural gas infrastructure in the U.S. “It’s about time we open America up for business and say to those foreign dictators in the world that we’re not going to buy your energy,” Scalise said

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers hailed the energy legislation’s passage in a statement posted to Twitter. “Republicans are prioritizing the American people over the Democrat’s [sic] radical climate agenda,” the Washington Republican said.

House Democrats meanwhile have decried the energy legislation, calling it a gift to oil and gas companies that incentivizes pollution.

“This bill is nothing more than a cheap political stunt to pad the profits of the same greedy oil and gas companies that are gouging my residents at the pump and poisoning the air they breathe and the water they drink,” Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said that the GOP energy bill “puts polluters over people.”

“We will continue to fight for an economy that makes life better for everyday Americans,” the New York Democrat said in a Tweet.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter as well to reiterate his claim that the measure is dead on arrival in the upper chamber, which Democrats narrowly control. “It would set the U.S. back decades in our transition to clean energy,” Schumer said.

If made law, the Republicans’ energy package would take steps to increase domestic oil and natural gas production. The bill would also address some lawmakers’ desire to reform the U.S. permitting process, allowing federal energy regulators to grant permits to cross-border transmission sites and other energy infrastructure. Another provision would cut down on federally mandated environmental reviews for mining and drilling operations, which some critics have said unnecessarily slow down the permitting process.

And the GOP bill would scrap methane emissions tax made law this past August with the Inflation Reduction Act.

Critics of the proposal, including the White House, have said that Republicans would give energy producers a license to pollute the environment by doing away with those federal controls.

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