I Supported That Bill Before I Opposed It
It took 45 minutes, some arm-twisting and ignoring the rules, but Republicans in the House of Representatives managed to approve a bill to make it easier for companies to build oil refineries....Tim Johnson voted against this bill. Is Tim Johnson Watch wrong? Is Tim Johnson really the principled moderate he claims to be?
The stated goal of the "Gasoline for America's Security Act" is to cut the cost of gas for working Americans. But the House rejected a bipartisan effort to require an 8-mile-per-gallon increase in vehicle mileage.
Instead, the bill offers favorable treatment to a polluting industry, could make it easier for them to pollute, limits anti-pollution gasoline blends and waives federal, state and local requirements about fuel additives after a natural disaster that disrupts supplies.
Rather than encouraging conservation, this measure will simply reinforce the nation's dependency on oil, and therefore make the country less secure.
We see why so many Republicans would not vote for it, even with coercion, and why Democrats chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" at the cowardly proceedings.
Sadly, no -- because Tim Johnson helped bring the bill to the floor in the first place. The bill came to a vote on October 7 because, earlier that day, the GOP leadership had proposed a special rule, H. Res. 481, which provided for expedited consideration of GAS. Some of the Republicans who opposed GAS also opposed the special expedited consideration, but Johnson voted for it, and it passed 216-201. Then, later that day, as the News-Sentinel notes, an amendment to recommit the bill to committee with instructions to add a provision addressing price gouging came to the floor. This amendment, if it succeeded, would have slowed the momentum for the bill's passage and, at a minimum, would have added a modicum of consumer protection to a heavily pro-oil-industry bill. Tim Johnson voted against it, and the bill failed 222-200.
Would Tim Johnson have switched to an Aye if they had not been able to get the necessary votes elsewhere? We will never know, because as soon as the Republicans got the 212th vote, they closed down the voting. But we do know that Johnson lined up with the GOP leadership to make the final vote on passage possible. Independent representation of one's constituents does not just entail an occasional principled vote -- it requires standing up to the leadership when it really matters. Johnson's vote on the afternoon of October 7 against GAS proves that he knows it was a terrible bill. It's too bad he didn't try on the morning of October 7 to stop it.