House Dems pass Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act by slim margin

In their ongoing denial of the true causes of skyrocketing prices at the pump, House Democrats on Thursday passed a measure requiring federal investigation of claims that the oil and gas industry is engaging in price gouging, but did so extremely narrowly, by a vote of 217-207, as the Washington Times reports.

According to the bill, the Federal Trade Commission would be forced to probe accusations that oil companies are engaging in unfair market manipulation worthy of penalties, in an apparent attempt at action designed to address the economic pain being felt by millions of Americans every day.

Interestingly, however, four Democrats split from their party to vote in opposition to the measure, with those members coming from hotly contested congressional districts and/or states in which oil production plays a significant economic role.

All Republicans in the lower chamber voted against the so-called Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which also purports to allow the president the power to issue an emergency proclamation prohibiting increases in fuel prices deemed “unconscionably excessive,” according to ABC News.

In a Monday hearing, House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) opined, “The problem is Big Oil is keeping supply artificially low so prices and profits stay high.”

Pallone continued, “Now I think that when the market is broken, that’s when Congress has to step in to protect American consumers. And that’s what this bill does: It empowers the FTC to go after the gougers and empowers the agency to effectively monitor and report on market manipulation.”

Countering that take, however, were oil industry executives who have testified that higher prices at the pump have been caused not by predatory actions on their part, but by larger forces related to supply and demand, an explanation with which Republicans in Congress seem to agree.

“If anybody is going to be sued for gouging, it should be the Gouger-in-Chief Joe Biden who has created this problem,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise on Thursday. “Stop relying on foreign countries for our energy when we can make it here cleaner, better than anyone in the world and lower gas prices and address this problem. This bill doesn’t do it. We got to bring up bills that actually fix the problem.”

Indeed, when Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm attempted Thursday to shift blame for rising gas prices to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) recited a laundry list of things the Biden administration has done since January of 2021 to cause the current crisis, and aptly labeled any attempts to argue otherwise, “nonsense.”