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House proposal to tap strategic oil reserves fails

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WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives on Thursday failed to pass legislation intended to cool off gasoline prices by requiring the government to sell 70 million barrels of light sweet crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the national stockpile.Democrats had pushed the legislation, hoping to lower surging oil prices by putting more of the reserve’s light sweet crude, sought by refiners, on the market. Sweet crude is desirable because it has less sulphur and is more easily refined into gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products.

The White House had threatened to veto the measure, arguing that Congress should work toward increasing domestic supply rather than tap into a strategic reserve.

Although the House voted 268 to 157 in favor of the legislation, the measure fell short of obtaining the two-thirds ”yes” vote that is required when the chamber suspends its rules to act quickly on a bill.Soaring energy costs have lawmakers scrambling to introduce legislation showing their constituents they are addressing the issue. Republican lawmakers have mostly pushed for increased domestic production by lifting bans on drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and oil shale development in the Midwest.

Democrats, however, have pushed for oil companies to drill on land already available under government leases to search for oil and tapping the SPR.

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