Boswell, Loebsack vote with Republicans on oil drilling bill

For a good example of gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, look no further than yesterday's U.S. House votes on offshore oil drilling. Republicans pushed a bill that won't go anywhere in order to score points against the president's energy policy. Democrats added language about U.S. sanctions against Iran and Syria to their motion to recommit in order to accuse Republicans of showing "reckless disregard for American national security."

Yet again, Representatives Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) were among the Democrats who voted with Republicans on legislation affecting the oil industry.

The Hill's Zack Colman described the purpose of yesterday's votes on oil drilling.

The GOP-backed efforts will likely go nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate. On top of that, the administration plan does not require congressional approval.

One House bill (H.R. 6082) would expand the amount of offshore oil and gas lease sales to 28 for 2012 through 2017, up from Obama's 15. That bill opens more Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions to exploration, whereas the administration plan prohibits activity in those regions. The bill also would expedite lease sales in Arctic waters near Alaska.

A Republican-led vote passed the bill, 253-170. Twenty-five Democrats crossed the aisle to vote aye with 228 Republicans.

The House also shot down Obama's plan in the form of a bill (H.R. 6168), which presented another chance for Republicans to show disapproval of the president's policy.

Here's the roll call for the vote on H.R. 6082, "Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan." Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05) were among the 228 Republican yes votes. Loebsack and two dozen other Democrats, mostly Blue Dogs like Boswell, also supported the bill. Bruce Braley (IA-01) was the only Iowan to vote no.

In contrast, all three Iowa Democrats voted for H.R. 6168, "President Obama's Proposed 2010-2017 Offshore Drilling Lease Sale Plan Act." Latham and King voted no, as did almost every House Republican.

The position taken by Boswell and Loebsack doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If you favor something broader than the president's vision for offshore oil drilling, you should oppose the president's plan. In fact, most of the 25 House Democrats who voted for the Republican approach to offshore oil drilling policy voted against the president's plan. Neither Boswell nor Loebsack called attention to these votes with any public statement, so I can't guess where they were coming from.

I also noticed that all three Iowa Democrats voted for the motion to recommit with instructions, just before the final vote to pass the Republican plan on offshore oil drilling. The motion to recommit almost never succeeds in derailing legislation backed by House leaders, but it can be a vehicle for the minority party to score points. So it was yesterday. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out press releases bashing King, Latham, and many other House Republicans who voted against that motion to recommit. Here's an excerpt from the Latham version:

VOTE ALERT: Congressman Latham Even Protects Oil Companies that Violate Iran and Syrian Sanctions

Congressman Tom Latham (IA-03) just voted against a plan to prohibit companies who conduct business with Iran or Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions from receiving drilling leases. The Democratic Members of the House Natural Resources Committee released a report today that shows that until recently at least five corporations who hold active oil and gas leases off America's coasts were in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

This is just the latest vote by Congressman Latham to put Big Oil over American national security interests by not supporting efforts to crack down on companies doing business with Iran - the world's most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism.

"Congressman Tom Latham voted to protect companies that are violating Iran or Syrian sanctions," said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Congressman Latham will go to any extreme to protect Big Oil, even allowing Big Oil companies in violation of Syria or Iran sanctions to profit more from new leases. The American people cannot afford Congressman Latham's repeated and reckless disregard for American national security because he has repeatedly voted to protect companies doing business with dangerous regimes like Iran."

Background

Congressman Latham Voted to Protect Oil Companies that Violate Iran and Syrian Sanctions. On July 25, 2012, House Republicans voted against a plan to prohibit companies who conduct business with Iran or Syria in violation of U.S. sanctions from receiving drilling leases. (HR 6082, Vote #510, 7/25/12)

How convenient. The DCCC can't draw a line between Boswell and his IA-03 opponent Latham on offshore oil drilling, because both Boswell and Latham voted for the Republican bill that promotes oil company interests. Highlighting Latham's vote against a doomed motion to recommit allows the DCCC to portray Boswell as tougher on "Big Oil" than Latham is.

In fairness, Boswell has called for ending oil industry subsidies, so there is some daylight between his and Latham's stance toward "Big Oil."

When it comes to oil production, though, Boswell has aligned himself with House Republicans for years, supporting numerous efforts to increase offshore oil drilling.

Braley and Loebsack have typically stood with the majority of the Democratic caucus against bills designed to increase offshore oil drilling. Last month, those two voted against legislation backed by Boswell and Republicans to expand domestic oil leasing, expedite oil drilling permitting, and block various EPA pollution rules. But like Boswell and just about all the House Republicans, both Loebsack and Braley have indicated their support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. King's Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack also supports the Keystone pipeline and increased domestic oil drilling.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

  • Not when

    The position taken by Boswell and Loebsack doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If you favor something broader than the president's vision for offshore oil drilling, you should oppose the president's plan.

    11% of Davenport is African American, 10.2% of DSM and over 8% of Coralville. Not when OFA is pitching "We've got your back" as a campaign rallying cry. After all, it is called "President Obama's Proposed 2010-2017 Offshore Drilling Lease Sale Plan Act."

    It's the best of both worlds: don't allow Latham/Archer the contrast while claiming support for PBO's back.

    And of course, 15 sounds very much like half a loaf.

    • thinking a bit more on this,

      Boswell needs every vote from DSM. I do think he's getting a raw deal from the national press on the $$ issue -- just let the two candidates run. Boswell has outperformed Dems in rural Polk for two election cycles while matching Dem performance within city limits. The race is not over, and he can win w/ enthusiastic Dem turnout. Loebsack has more breathing room, but he is not well-known to Dem voters in Davenport. Both candidates will use every opportunity to have their cake and eat it too.

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