H.R. 1 – Republicans Force Vulnerable Members to Take Toxic Political Vote
To: Interested Parties
From: Lori Lodes, Climate Power
Date: March 30, 2023
Re: H.R. 1 – Republicans Force Vulnerable Members to Take Toxic Political Vote
Later today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 1, commonly known as the Polluters Over People Act. When they do, House Republicans will be forcing their own vulnerable members—including the 18 in districts won by President Biden—to take a politically toxic vote in favor of a bill that is dead on arrival in the Senate. This vote will absolutely be included in campaign ads against Republicans through Election Day 2024.
While the majority of the congressional Republican caucus may come from gerrymandered districts and only need to please a majority of the Republican primary electorate, the majority of the House will be decided by members from districts won by President Biden in 2020.
This reality is not a secret to Republican Leadership. Earlier this week Punchbowl News reported that there was “some nervousness in the House Republican leadership about H.R. 1, the party’s signature energy package. Leadership sources tell us that they’re worried that Northeastern GOP moderates could vote against the package.”
The Polluters Over People Act puts vulnerable Republican members on record voting in favor of Big Oil companies that made more than $400 billion in profits last year. It would make families pay more in energy costs, scale back the Made in America clean energy boom happening all across the country, dismantle key environmental laws, and give yet another handout to oil and gas companies who just happen to be their campaign donors.
Unequivocally, this is a bad place for Republicans to be in competitive districts.
Indeed, a 2022 election eve poll conducted by Hart Research found that on the question of how best to address high gas prices, by 57% to 43%, voters agreed more with Democrats who support “cracking down on price gouging and profiteering by the major oil companies and speeding up the transition to lower-cost clean energy sources” than with Republicans who favor “increasing U.S. oil and gas development, including on public lands and coastal areas, and building more oil and gas pipelines.”
And yet House Republicans are choosing to side with Big Oil.
In a March 2023 poll, also conducted by Hart Research, we asked voters about their trust on energy issues for each of ten different entities. The two least trusted of the ten are the two driving forces behind H.R. 1: oil company CEOs (64% trust just little or not at all) and MAGA Republicans (59% trust just a little or not at all).
Further results from the March poll show why H.R. 1 represents such a political problem for endangered Republican members:
- Support for increasing our use of clean and renewable energy sources is bipartisan: 93% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans say it is important.
- 91% of Democrats, 74% of Independents, and 45% of Republicans say it is important for the U.S. to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel energy.
- Large majorities of both Democrats (88%) and Independents (66%) favor speeding up the transition to clean energy, while Republican voters lean more narrowly the other way (40% speed up, 60% slow down).
An additional February 2023 poll from Navigator Research found that Republican attempts to blame domestic policies like environmental regulations for high gas prices fall flat. Just 28% of voters blame these policies while 66% blame corporations or foreign conflicts. The share of voters who blame oil companies for high prices rises from 33% to 45% when shown proof points about record-breaking profits oil companies have made.
House Republicans are able to set their own agenda. Their choice for H.R. 1 is a representation of their values. Last Congress, Democrats put forward the For the People Act as H.R. 1. That bill addressed voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics. It was a demonstration of the values held dear to the Democratic majority.
The Republican majority has chosen a giveaway to Big Oil as its H.R. 1. Despite majorities of voters wanting oil companies to be held accountable, to speed up the transition to clean energy and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, Republicans are forcing their most vulnerable members to vote against their own political interests. Whether this is to please the hard core base needed to win primaries in deep red districts or to keep the campaign dollars flowing, it is going to contribute to a Democratic House Majority in 2025.