Oklahoma's congressional delegation cast five emphatic 'no' votes Thursday on legislation to stop alleged price gouging by oil and gas companies.
With gasoline prices establishing new record highs every day this week ($4.59/gallon on Friday), many Democrats find it troubling that large oil and gas producers are showing record profits at the same time.
"Stop price gouging of the American people," said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at a press conference Thursday.
Speaker Pelosi said she wants Americans to know Democrats are trying to bring fuel prices down, and that The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, she believes, will help.
"We will do this and other things to help with price at pump," Pelosi added.
The measure would make it illegal to increase gas prices in excessive and exploitative ways and would expand the Federal Trade Commission's power to investigate such alleged exploitation.
Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK4) said there’s no evidence that anyone is price gouging.
"Are we paying a lot more?" Rep. Cole asked rhetorically, during an interview Thursday, "We certainly are, and we can date it literally to the first day that President Biden became president."
Cole said, from day one, the Biden administration has sent a clear anti-fossil fuel message to the industry, which has helped discourage drilling.
Republicans also point to slowdowns in permitting and efforts to discourage financing by investors.
Every Republican and four Democrats opposed the bill. Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) calls it a waste of time and energy.
"What we need to be focused on is not going after oil companies for price gouging," said Rep Bice in an interview, "it needs to be helping American energy production."
Republicans acknowledge the Russian invasion of Ukraine has contributed to the high prices, but otherwise said the administration and Democrats have only themselves to blame.
They said oil and gas companies, if anything, should be thanked.
"I know the people that are in this industry, they work really hard, they suffer booms and busts," said Cole, "it’s a very difficult industry in terms of predictability -- they don’t deserve the kind of smearing I think they are getting up here."
It's very unlikely the bill will become law, as it would need 60 votes in the Senate, and it's doubtful it would get the support of all 50 Democrats.