Six Texas Democrats Break Party Line On Crude Oil Export Bill

A 261-159 vote on a bill lifting the federal ban on the exportation of crude oil stayed mostly on party lines, but six Texas congressional Democrats broke the line to vote in favor of the legislation.

House Resolution 702, authored by Congressman Joe Barton, R-Ennis, passed early afternoon on Friday, October 13 in spite of a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The bill, which would lift the Arab oil embargo ban on crude oil exports, faces stiff opposition from the United Steelworkers union and refiners such as San Antonio based Valero Energy Corp.. (NYSE: VLO)

Arguments from opponents include the risk of higher gasoline prices, refinery jobs being sent overseas, and environmental harm. Republicans were overwhelmingly in favor of the bill while Democrats were against it.

36 congressional delegates from Texas are part of the U.S. House of Representatives. Comprising the base of delegates are 25 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

A final vote roll call released earlier this month showed that six Democrats from the Texas delegation broke the party line to to vote for the bill:

  • Henry Cuellar (Laredo)
  • Beto O’ Rouke (El Paso)
  • Ruben Hinojosa (Edinburg)
  • Filemon Vela (Brownsville)
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston)
  • Marc Veasey (Fort Worth)

Cuellar, of Laredo, signed on as an early supporter of the bill. His district includes a large chunk of the Eagle Ford Shale spanning from Laredo to the Rio Grande Valley. In favor of employment and economic growth, he added an amendment to the bill calling for oil field training and an improvement and increase or related degree programs at academic institutions with high minority enrollment. Cuellar, O’Rouke, Hinojosa, and Vela are all serving in districts with universities and colleges of majority Hispanic enrollment.

Jackson Lee voted in favor of the bill after amendments were added requiring reporting on opportunities for veterans and women, in addition to tracking how exports on American petroleum reserves would affect the economy.

Congressmen Lamar Smith and Will Hurd of San Antonio voted in favor of the bill however, fellow congressmen Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett did not.


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