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        Saturday, October 08, 2005

       10/8/05 Bedlam erupts in Congress over oil refinery vote;

A controversial bill that offered abandoned U.S. military bases to private industry for the construction of oil refineries and granted federal insurance to refiners ensnared in litigation passed by a razor-thin margin in the House Friday afternoon 212-210 as Democrats chanted "shame, shame, shame."

The vote, which was supposed to take five minutes, lasted 45. About a dozen Republicans reversed their votes as the Republican leadership circled the chamber pressuring members of their party to ensure the bill's passage.

Excerpts from Reuters:
When over two dozen Republicans initially voted no, DeLay, Barton, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and new Majority Leader Roy Blunt circled the chamber to cajole holdouts.

Eventually, enough Republicans switched to pass the bill.

Democrats protested that the vote was held open. "I am informed that every member of Congress who is in town has voted," Democratic whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said at one point, when the tally was 210 yes, 214 no.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also complained, saying the proceedings brought "dishonor to the House."

"The fact that the Republicans are handmaidens of the special interests is nothing new," she quipped. "The fact that they would shamelessly display their servitude should come as no surprise. But today's extortion is an especially shameful display - a sad day for democracy. The people spoke and the vote was clearly against this bill."

Democrats in the chamber chanted "shame, shame, shame" as the final tally was announced.

Bush lauded the bill: "No refineries have been built in our Nation since 1976, and the recent disruptions in supply from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have demonstrated that additional refining capacity is critically needed," Bush said in a statement.
Other provisions in the bill include:

Expanding Northeast Heating Oil Reserve to 5 million barrels, from current 2 million barrels;

Limiting anti-pollution gasoline blends to six, from the current 17;

Requiring FTC to prepare a report on the price of gasoline and heating oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange;

Waives federal, state and local fuel additive requirements after a natural disaster that disrupts supplies;

Gives Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the power to monitor offshore gas gathering lines to prevent anti-competitive practices