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Democrats block bill that would restart Keystone pipeline, boost US energy production

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Jason Franson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Democrats this week blocked a motion to consider a Republican bill that would reauthorize construction of the TransCanada Keystone pipeline and restart the federal oil leasing program, among other things, in an effort to boost domestic energy production amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Daily Caller reported.

The legislation — called the American Energy Independence from Russia Act — was introduced in the House by Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) on Feb. 28. The bicameral bill was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) on March 3.

It comes at a time when gas prices are skyrocketing in the U.S. due to private-sector boycotts and a public-sector embargo on imports of Russian oil in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. The global energy supply disruption has exposed the West's reliance on Russian energy sources and thus renewed calls to bolster American energy independence.

Republicans have argued for years that the U.S. should seek energy independence as a matter of national security, and the current conflict with Russia has undoubtedly served to strengthen the argument.

Yet, according to the Daily Caller, on Wednesday evening, 219 Democrats in the House voted down a motion to consider the legislation. The Epoch Times reported that a motion to consider the bill was also shot down by Democrats on March 1.

The legislation would immediately reauthorize the construction of the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Montana and restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, both of which were suspended by the Biden administration last year.

It would also require the Biden administration to submit an energy security plan to Congress within 30 days that would grow America’s oil and natural gas production to offset Russian imports.

In a joint statement to introduce the legislation, Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Westerman said, "Putin and Russia’s economy are dependent upon dominating energy production and exporting to other nations. He gains power by doing so, and it’s what funds his military and aggressive behavior. To counter Putin, our bill flips the switch to promote American energy jobs, production, and exports."

The president was torched on social media this week after he begged foreign despots and dictators to increase their oil production in response to the global energy crisis rather than unleashing America's energy resources.

In a floor speech in support of the bill Wednesday, Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Texas) slammed President Joe Biden for his energy policies.

"This week our president — our American president — asked Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, asked them to boost their output so that American consumers wouldn’t see a spike in gas prices," Crenshaw said.

He added, "Surely, [Biden] knows we can also boost domestic production right here at home. Surely he knows that domestic production supports American jobs, and surely he knows that domestic production is cleaner, by far, than foreign production."

Dan Crenshaw Speaks on the American Energy Independence From Russia Act www.youtube.com

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