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House votes to lift U.S. oil export restrictions

The vote was welcomed by industry groups and representatives, but critics branded it a “piece of meaningless political theater.”

In Friday’s vote, 26 Democrats joined 235 Republicans to support the legislation, which passed by a vote of 261-159. The legislation’s prospects in the Senate are less certain, and the White House has already threatened to veto it.

However, Reps. Joe Barton (R - TX) and Henry Cuellar (D - TX), who introduced the bill in February, applauded the vote. “With strong support, as seen in the House today, the President should see the need to act and stop playing politics with American jobs,” they said in a statement.

“House approval of legislation to lift the ban on crude oil exports is great news. It sends a strong signal that Congress will lead where the administration has failed. It is unfortunate that the White House wants to ignore broad bipartisan support for increasing exports of American energy to our friends and allies,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said.

“It defies logic that this administration wants to lift sanctions on Iran while keeping de facto sanctions in place on the U.S.”

API and PESA also welcomed the vote.

"Today's vote starts us down the path to a new era of energy security, saving consumers billions and creating jobs across the country," said API President and CEO Jack Gerard. "American producers would be able to complete on a level playing field with countries like Iran and Russia, providing security to our allies and accelerating the energy revolution that has revitalized our economy.”

"Ending the outdated prohibition on exporting U.S. crude will ensure that the oilfield services industry continues to be a leader in technology and innovation,” said Leslie Shockley Beyer, president of PESA.

“A modern policy will continue the U.S. energy industry's role as a key catalyst for economic and job growth, both nationally and in individual communities around the country."

However, Allied Progress, a group which opposes lifting the existing restrictions, downplayed the significance of the vote.

“The bill that passed in the House today has little chance of succeeding in the Senate and would be effectively dead on arrival if it ever reaches the President’s desk,” Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, said.

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