NewsBreak: House passes bill aimed at restricting presidential releases of reserve oil

The House on Thursday passed legislation intended to restrict the president’s ability to release oil from the country’s emergency supply — a bill aimed squarely at President Biden for his handling of rising gasoline prices last year.

The bill passed in a largely partisan 221-205 vote. Rep. Jared Golden (Maine) was the only Democrat who voted with every Republican in favor of the bill.

The legislation requires the federal government to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for new oil and gas production if it wants to withdraw oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

It contains an exception for “severe energy supply interruptions.”

Leasing is an early step in the lengthy process of setting up new oil exploration on public lands and waters. It takes an average of more than four years for leased lands to turn into additional oil.

The legislation is unlikely to make its way past the Democratic-led Senate, and the Biden administration has also said that the president would veto the bill .

But the measure still carries symbolism as one of the first two energy bills passed by Republicans with their new majority — both related to the SPR.

House Republicans brought the bill to the floor under a modified-open rule , which allows lawmakers to submit, debate and vote on amendments to legislation. It was the first time in seven years that a measure was considered under the process. In prior years, legislation was considered under either structured or closed rules, which limited the number of amendments that could come under consideration.

Lawmakers submitted more than 140 amendments, a number of which were debated on the House floor. Some were taken out of consideration because they were not germane, but debate still spanned two days and ran for hours. Members had to submit the proposed changes at least the day before the bill came to the floor.

Many of the proposed changes related to partisan issues, including Democratic efforts related to environmental considerations that were rejected. Others, including an amendment seeking to prevent sales from the SPR from going to Iran, China, North Korea or Russia, were added in a bipartisan manner.

The legislation — and Biden’s past use of the SPR — also became the centerpiece for a war of words this week between Democrats and Republicans.

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