Four Democrats broke ranks in a vote on a Democratic House bill designed to clamp down on price gouging by oil and gas companies amid the nationwide surge in the cost of fuel.
Reps. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Lizzie Fletcher, D-Tex., all joined their Republican colleagues in a vote against the measure, which passed along a narrow 217-207 vote.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., is unlikely to see enough support from the Senate to reach the president's desk. Still, the bill encapsulates the party's broad messaging campaign to blame price-gouging, as opposed to policy, on the soaring prices at the pump.
"What's infuriating is that this is happening at the same time that gas and oil companies are raking in record profits and then putting those dollars into stock buybacks," Schrier said on Thursday.
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The measure expressly prohibits the practice of setting fuel prices that are "unconsciously excessive" and encourages the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pursue legal action against wrongdoers.
But several of the bill's Democratic detractors argued this week that the measure could be liable to reduce the supply of oil.
"At best, this bill is a distraction that won't actually address the problem. At worst, it could make the problem more severe," told CNN.
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Fletcher echoed that sentiment, telling The Hill that "legislation is not the answer."
"The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act would not fix high gasoline prices at the pump, and has the potential to exacerbate the supply shortage our country is facing, leading to even worse outcomes," she said. "For these reasons, I voted no on this legislation today."
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Rice likewise told The Hill that the bill "will not have any meaningful impact for consumers and could ultimately cause a chilling effect when we need to increase supply."
Back in April, House Democrats called on several big oil executives to provide congressional testimony on why the price of fuel, currently at a national average of $4.59 per gallon, is experiencing a record high. For the most part, the executives blamed Biden's oil policies as well as external market forces.