The White House tried to blunt Wednesday’s contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder with claims that Republicans were trying to focus on something other than the economy and jobs.
“At the beginning of this year, Republicans announced that one of their chief legislative and strategic priorities was to investigate the administration and damage the president politically,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today. “We are nine days away from the expiration of federal transportation funding which guarantees jobs for almost a million construction workers because Congress has not passed a transportation bill. We are 10 days away from student loan rates doubling, potentially impacting over 7.4 million borrowers.”
And that’s what President Obama focused on today as he notched yet another speech on student-loan rates into the schedule.
But the Carney spin came on the same day that the House passed the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, a package of seven bills focused on spurring job growth and lowering energy costs while embracing the country’s energy resources.
That legislation passed 284-163 despite a veto threat two days ago from Obama.
The package includes sponsor Rep. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012, which would require the administration to formulate a plan for new energy leases on federal land — with production output equal to that which is sapped from the reserve — if it decides to dip into the SPR.
It also includes Rep. Ed Whitfield’s (R-Ky.) Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, which would freeze new EPA regulations that are expected to drive up pump prices; Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-Colo.) Planning for American Energy Act of 2012, which would make the Interior Secretary develop an all-of-the-above plan that includes fossil fuels as well as renewables; Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Colo.) Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act of 2012, which would implement a minimum acreage leasing plan and speed up the leasing process; Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R-Colo.) Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act, which would dial back the red tape for energy developers; Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash.) National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act; and Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-Ohio) BLM Live Internet Auctions Act.
“Through increased domestic energy production, states such as North Dakota and Oklahoma are enjoying unemployment rates significantly lower than the country’s national average of 8.2 percent,” said GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), leader of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), after the vote. “However, this increased production is occurring on privately owned lands, not public lands – where the majority of our energy potential is located.”
Nineteen Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill, while five Republicans voted against it.
Two of the Democrats who voted “aye” also made headlines this week for confirming that they’ll skip the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this September: New York Reps. Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul.
Owens said after the vote he was disappointed that the Keystone XL pipeline wasn’t part of the package. An amendment to expedite pipeline approval was offered by Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) but was later withdrawn.