Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of H. Res. 6578, the Consumer Energy Supply Act of 2008. The measure received strong majority support in a House vote today of 268 to 157, but failed to receive the two-thirds necessary to pass under suspension of the rules. All Democrats present voted for the measure, while 157 Republicans voted against it. The measure would direct the release of a small amount of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, bringing down gas prices and sending a strong message to energy speculators. Below are the Speaker's floor remarks, as prepared:
“Mr. Speaker, 17 days ago, the Congress called upon the President to free our oil from a government stockpile known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
“The American people have paid for more than 700 million barrels of oil to be held in this government stockpile. At significant taxpayer expense, the SPR is currently 97 percent full - its highest level ever.
“The President has not heeded the call of the Congress or the American people to free our oil, so today the House must act.
“I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Congressman Nick Lampson for bringing this legislation to the floor today. He has clearly heard the call of his constituents, and indeed all Americans, that Congress must act to help lower gas prices. His legislation will also strengthen our national security, and is a good deal for the American taxpayer.
“I would also like to acknowledge the other lead sponsor of this bill, and one of our nation's greatest champions for the environment, Chairman Markey.
“This legislation requires the Secretary of Energy to sell at least 70 million barrels of light crude from the SPR for heavier, less expensive crude, within six months.
“This brings new oil to market. In the past, releasing oil from the SPR has lowered gas prices within two weeks.
“This is good for the American taxpayer: by exchanging light crude oil for the less expensive heavy crude, this legislation will potentially raise over $840 million in revenues.
“This strengthens our national security. That $840 million could be used to increase the total inventory in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and further strengthen our energy supply against potential disruptions.
“Because this legislation is good public policy, it is supported by a broad coalition, including the Air Transport Association, American Truckers Association, National Farmers Union, Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
“Releasing oil from the SPR is supported by leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Republicans, such as Congressman Zack Wamp, Senator Johnny Isakson, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Mr. Speaker, the Democratic-led Congress is moving America in a New Direction for Energy Independence to lower gas prices, make America more secure, create green jobs, and reduce global warming.
“Today, we can swiftly expand petroleum supplies, and consumers could see the effects at the pump in just two weeks. I urge all of my colleagues to join together and support this legislation.”