Energy Secretary Tries to Get Kerry-Reed Amendment Stripped from Energy Bill; Bipartisan Group of Senators Fights Back
WASHINGTON — Senator John Kerry, Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today fought back against the Administration’s latest attempt to eliminate an amendment in the Energy Policy Act that will help small businesses and farmers hurt by record fuel prices.
“Energy costs are through the roof, and in the entire 1,300 pages of the energy bill, this is the only immediate relief from record-high gas prices for farmers, truckers and small businesses. Amazingly, the administration is trying to gut this relief from high energy costs,” Kerry said.
Last Friday, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman wrote to the Chairman of the House-Senate Conference on H.R. 6 objecting to the bipartisan Kerry-Reed amendment’s inclusion in the final bill. The amendment passed the Senate by unanimous consent four weeks ago.
Supporters of the Kerry-Reed amendment today wrote to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Energy and Natural Resources urging them to retain the amendment in the final energy bill. Read the letter here.
The amendment (S.Admt. 825), modeled after Kerry’s Small Business and Farm Energy Emergency Relief Act of 2005 (S. 269), gives small farms and businesses hurt by the price spikes in heating oil, natural gas, propane, gasoline, and kerosene access to low-interest credit through disaster loan programs at the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A similar provision passed the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the full Senate with broad bipartisan support during the 107th Congress when small businesses also faced a substantial increase in energy prices.
“The administration says high energy prices aren’t a disaster. Try telling that to America’s hard-working small-business owners, truckers and farmers, and they’ll tell you a different story,” Kerry added.
The Kerry-Reed amendment has bipartisan support: Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mark L. Pryor (D-Ark.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.).