Pressure to switch votes stops US commodities bill

US House Democrats charged Republican leaders with pressuring many GOP members to change their votes and defeat an energy commodities reform bill on July 30.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 31 -- US House Democrats charged Republican leaders with pressuring many GOP members to change their votes and defeat an energy commodities reform bill on July 30. The measure, which came to the floor under a rules suspension, fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage in a 276-151 vote.

"With the support of more than 290 members, including more than 75 Republicans, HR 6604 was well on its way to being passed over the two-thirds vote requirement, sending a clear signal that transparency and enforcement would return to the commodities and futures markets. Then Republican leadership demanded that members change their votes in order to protect President Bush," Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said following the vote.

He said, "HR 6604 is a bipartisan bill that passed the Agriculture Committee by voice vote. It is the product of a comprehensive series of hearings to examine the issues surrounding futures trading from all sides. And it clearly has enough support to pass this House. We will continue to pursue meaningful steps to address the conditions that have thrown some futures markets into disorder and hope that members will have the courage of their convictions to join us."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added, "By organizing a reversal of votes, the Republican leadership sent a strong message to the American people: The Republican conference is playing politics with the pain American consumers and businesses are facing at the pump. Today's vote marks the 13th time a majority of House Republicans have opposed serious, responsible proposals to increase supply, reduce prices, protect consumers and transition America to a clean renewable energy independent future. The American people deserve better."

Republicans in the Senate, where a bill with similar provisions was defeated the previous week, as well as in the House question Democrats' assertions that excessive energy commodities speculation by index funds and institutional investors is largely responsible for inflated oil prices. House Republicans also say that Pelosi keeps bringing bills to the floor under suspended rules so amendments leading to a fuller energy issues debate can't be proposed.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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