House Conservatives Employ DeLay-Style Tactics To Kill Legislation That Would Rein In Oil Profiteers

Our guest blogger is Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Tom DeLay may be gone but he is not forgotten. During yesterday’s vote on the Commodity Markets and Transparency Act (H.R. 6604) to rein in oil profiteers, House Republican leaders pressured 13 of their members to switch their vote from “yes” to “no.” Thanks to these strong arm tactics and weak members, the bill to lower gasoline prices by controlling profiteers failed by a vote of 276–151, falling ten votes shy of the two-thirds majority required for passage under the suspension of the House rules. Once again, the GOP leadership used their power to help keep oil prices and profits high, while hurting the average driver.

Fadel Gheit, Managing Director and Senior Oil Analyst, Oppenheimer & Company testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

I believe the surge in crude oil price, which more than doubled in the last 12 months, was mainly due to excessive speculation and not due to an unexpected shift in market fundamentals.


During the alloted time for voting, 291 members cast “yes” votes — more than enough to pass the bill. Then Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and their minions went to work. Thirteen Republicans flipped and joined the 16 Democrats and 122 Republicans already in opposition. Final result: the bill failed, and profiteers will continue to drive up oil prices.

The “Threatened Thirteen” who switched their votes to oppose controls and oversight on Enron-like profiteering:

— Tom Cole (R-OK), Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee — Andy Crenshaw (R-FL) — David Davis (R-TN) — Frank Lucas (R-OK) — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) — John Peterson (R-PA), retiring; House leader for oil drilling in protected coastal areas — Joseph Pitts (R-PA) — Rick Renzi (R-AZ), retiring due indictment for fraud, other charges — Mike Rogers (R-MI) — Jim Saxton (R-NJ), retiring — Jean Schmidt (R-OH) — John Sullivan (R-OK) — Michael Turner (R-OH)

This story feels familiar because it is. In October 2005, then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) got three members to switch their votes in favor of a bill to weaken the Clean Air Act and other environmental safeguards to pass “Gasoline for America’s Security Act.” It would have eliminated health protections to help big oil companies build refineries. (Fortunately, it died in the Senate.) So although Tom DeLay is gone due to an indictment for felony conspiracy, his replacements still use the “hammer” from DeLay’s old toolbox.