Samuel Case, FISM News
House Republicans opened up the amendment process for the first time in nearly seven years on Thursday, opening debate for 143 proposed changes to a bill related to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
Known as the Strategic Production Response Act, the bill aims to limit President Joe Biden’s ability to tap the SPR, while forcing the federal government to develop a plan for increasing oil and gas production on government-owned lands.
President Biden frequently tapped into the SPR in 2022 in an effort to curb soaring energy prices, brought on by the administration’s climate agenda, the war in Ukraine, as well as other factors. The administration released over 245 million barrels from the SPR last year, bringing the reserve to a 40-year low.
The amendment process was opened under a “modified-open rule,” which lets any lawmaker propose an amendment as long as it comes before the day the bill is to be debated. But not all amendments will necessarily receive a vote.
The process is a change from “closed” or “structured” rules, which the chamber operated with under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Some Republicans objected to these rules for limiting the amendment process and giving the Speaker greater control over floor procedures. Supporters of the old rule argue they were more efficient in moving legislation through the process.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy highlighted the changed process in a Tuesday press conference.
“This is what we promised the American public. This is what we promised members on both sides: that there will be more openness, more opportunity for ideas to win at the end of the day,” the Speaker said.
The rule change was negotiated as part of a deal between McCarthy and Conservative hardliners to secure his bid for the speakership.
Even some Democrats appreciated the change.
“If I get some amendments passed then I’m gonna like it a lot,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a far-left Michigan Democrat.