House Approves OPEC-targeted Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act (H.R. 6074) this week by a vote of 324 to 84, a measure that would give the Justice Department an added tool to pursue antitrust actions against OPEC-controlled entities.

"The House (on Tuesday) with a strong bipartisan and veto-proof margin voted to hold foreign oil cartels and Big Oil accountable,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “The legislation provides the Justice Department with a critical tool to pursue antitrust actions against OPEC-controlled entities for fixing prices and creates a new Justice Department Petroleum Industry Antitrust Task Force to examine anticompetitive market practices in the oil industry.”

The new measure also requires that the mergers of Big Oil companies in recent years be examined for anticompetitive effects, Pelosi said in a press release.

"Instead of using a veto threat to shield cartels and Big Oil companies from accountability, the Bush Administration should work with the Congress to protect American consumers,” Pelosi said.

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the move by his political counterparts in the House was largely “theatrical” rather than “substantive.”

"As oil approaches an unheard of $130 a barrel and gasoline continues its steady march toward $4 a gallon, American energy consumers are rightly demanding this Congress produce a genuine, ‘commonsense’ energy plan – one that brings down prices in the short-term, and addresses our dangerous dependence on foreign energy sources in the long-term,” Blunt said. “Unfortunately, with only days before Congress breaks for Memorial Day recess, what we saw on the floor today was more theatrical in nature than substantive in one.”

Blunt said the best way to lower prices is to produce more oil and refine more gasoline in the U.S.

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