Obama Opposes Bill to Lift Oil Export Ban Set for House Vote

Updated on

President Barack Obama opposes a measure poised to advance in the House of Representatives this week that would end the four-decade U.S. ban on oil exports.

“We wouldn’t support legislation like the one that’s been put forward by Republicans,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday at a briefing.

While House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pushing for a vote this month, Earnest criticized him for trying to “cozy up to oil interests” by making his announcement to an industry group in Houston.

Instead of pushing oil exports, Earnest said McCarthy should advocate ending tax breaks for oil drillers and use the cash to invest in solar and wind energy.

Oil companies including Continental Resources Inc. and ConocoPhillips have spent much of the past two years urging Congress to change the export policy. They have relied on a series of economic analyses concluding that ending the restrictions won’t mean a rise in gasoline prices for drivers.

Those efforts are set to be rewarded Wednesday when the House Energy and Commerce Committee is to begin consideration of legislation to end the ban. But getting a vote in the Senate is more difficult.

‘No Sense’

“It makes no sense to export our oil abroad when we still import millions of barrels of oil a day and consumers are saving at the pump because of discounted U.S. oil prices,” Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement.

At an event earlier Tuesday in Washington, Markey said “there’s no guarantee that every Republican is going to vote to repeal that ban.”

Earnest referenced the swap being discussed in Washington: ending tax breaks for drillers in return for approving oil exports.

That’s something pro-trade supporters may be unwilling to embrace.

“We have the votes to pass it in the House now with no changes,” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and the measure’s lead sponsor, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 9.

(Updates with Markey comment in seventh paragraph.)

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