What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Oil & Gas Industry : CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) amendment to mandate that any future legislation that would result in the increase in the national average price of fuel receive 60 votes as a requirement of passage/Motion to waive the Budget Act with respect to the point of order (2007 senate Roll Call 217)
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CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) amendment to mandate that any future legislation that would result in the increase in the national average price of fuel receive 60 votes as a requirement of passage/Motion to waive the Budget Act with respect to the point of order
senate Roll Call 217     Jun 20, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to legislation aimed at reducing the country's dependence on fossil fuels that would require that any future legislation that would result in an increase in the average price of fuel (as determined by the Congressional Budget Office) be required to achieve a 60-vote majority instead of the 50-vote majority normally required to pass a bill in the Senate.

The proposal was put forth by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). "The traveling public is coping with the high price of gasoline every day," DeMint said. "While there are many factors out of our control forcing up the price of gas, we can control what we do here in the Senate."

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) countered that the amendment was as impractical as it was unwise. "Frankly, world oil prices and domestic fuel prices are swayed by all sorts of influences and psychological factors in the market," Bingaman said. "To think the Congressional Budget Office would be able to analyze price effects of legislative proposals might play in this complex stew of what traders and producers and major refiners think will happen is not realistic. This point of order would give a tremendous amount of influence to the petroleum industry. Most anything we do up here causes them to complain we are likely to raise gasoline prices as a result."

Democrats decided to raise what's known as a point of order against DeMint's amendment on the grounds that it would require the Congressional Budget Office to take actions it otherwise would not, thus raising the costs to the federal government. Under rules put in place by the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, unless a spending increase is offset by spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere in the federal budget, the Budget Act has to be waived. On those grounds, Bingaman raised a point of order against DeMint's amendment. By law, a three-fifths majority of the whole Senate (60 votes) is required to waive the Budget Act.

DeMint said the Democrats' actions reflected how just much they disliked his amendment, proving "that they have additional plans in the works to raise gasoline prices on the American people. Why else would they be fighting it so hard?" On those grounds, DeMint moved to waive the Budget Act.

Nine Republicans crossed party lines to join an almost unanimous Democratic majority in voting to reject DeMint's motion. Only one Democrat voted for it. Thus, on a vote of 37 to 55, the Senate rejected an attempt to attach an amendment that would require 60 votes to pass any future legislation that the Congressional Budget Office determined would raise the average price of fuel to a bill aiming to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels.

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