Good news: House rejects refinery bill

Submitted by Rafael DeGennaro on Mon, 2006-05-08 05:00.

On May 3, 2006, the House failed to muster the required 2/3 majority (it failed on a vote of 237-188) to pass H.R. 5254, the refinery bill. A 2/3 majority was required because the bill was considered under “suspension of the rules” — a special procedure intended to be used for non-controversial bills. As noted in a recent post, the bill was not available until the day it was considered and was never reported by any commitee.

During floor debate, opponents of the bill spoke to its substance, but opposing members including Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Tom Allen (D-ME) criticized the process:

Mr. BOUCHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill and urge its rejection by the House.

Democrats are more than willing to work with the majority Republicans to write legislation which addresses constricted refinery capacity in a proper manner. But on the measure we are debating this morning, we were not consulted. In fact, no hearings have been held on the bill. No markup sessions have been conducted. There has been no consideration whatsoever of this measure by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is the committee of jurisdiction. The bill was not even introduced until late last night or early this morning.

If the majority party is willing to work with us, we would make every effort to construct a thoughtful bill that addresses the refinery shortage in a constructive way and bring that bipartisan measure to the floor of the House within a matter of days or at most a matter of weeks. I hope the majority Republicans will consider and accept our offer.

[…]

Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this bill. It is being rushed to the floor under expedited consideration with limited debate, no opportunity for amendments, no hearings, no markup. In fact, as of yesterday, the bill hadn’t even been introduced. This is yet another example of the “ready, fire, aim” approach that passes for legislating in the Republican-controlled House.

During debate, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), inserted in the Congressional Record a letter from House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). He notes that H.R.5254 clearly lies within jurisdiction of his commitee:
“Specifically, section four of the bill contains a provision that implicates the Committee on the Judiciary’s jurisdiction under rule X(1)(l)(1) (“the judiciary and judicial proceedings, civil and criminal).” But Sensenbrenner waived jurisdiction. He did a disservice to his committee and to the legislative process.