The fight for gas deregulation Krueger suits up again . By Charles Holmes Washington They’re choosing up sides in Congress for the Second Annual Showdown on natural gas deregulation. Last time around, Texas Congressman Bob Krueger led the fight for deregula , tion. Krueger is preparing a similar effort for this Congress, but his foes have effectively decided where Krueger will operate. Earlier in the spring, the House of Representatives formed an ad hoc committee to deal with the overall question of energy. Five Texans were named to Krueger was not one of them. The New Braunfels Democrat was on the list of possibles less than 24 hours before the first 37 names were officially announced. But there were several changes at the last minute. Gas-pricecontrol partisans worked their will on House Speaker Tip O’Neill and kept Krueger off the new committee. Later, antideregulation forces were able to do in Krueger again. When O’Neill added three members to the ad hoc committee, Krueger was frustrated once more. A nice thought It is too early to say who will have the last laugh in this scurrying for advantage on energy legislation, but Krueger still has a strong base from which to mount an attack on federal gas price controls. Originally, it was intended that the ad hoc committee would make decisions for the House on energy questions, streamlining a deliberative process which had previously involved five committees, each with jurisdiction of its own. A vehicle for consolidated decisionmaking was a nice thought, but none of the five committees was willing to relinquish any power. In the end, the ad hoc committee was given only the authority to review and amend, not initiate, legislation. While Krueger is not on the ad hoc committee, he is the second-ranking Democrat on the subcommittee on energy and power of the House commerce committee. It was from this dugout that he waged his deregulation fight. The second-term Texan realizes it was the way he fought for deregulation as much as his position on the issue which has made him a persona non grata with some powers in Congress, including some on his own committee. Particularly on his own committee. In the last Congress, Krueger’s deregulation proposal was not part of the commerce committee’s energy bill, having failed as an amendment on a 19-19 vote. Krueger had to fight energy and power subcommittee chairman John Dingell of Michigan and the full committee chairman, Harley Staggers of West Virginia, just to win the right to offer his amendment on the House floor. Though he was successful with the rules committee, he still encountered behind-the-scenes opposition. In the April issue of Nation’s Business, Krueger recalled that, after all the maneuvering in the rules committee, then-Speaker Carl Albert indicated he planned to bring the energy bill to the floor the first week in February. Krueger could offer his deregulation amendment then. He was called to Albert’s office on Jan. 30. “I arrived there to find not only Mr. Dingell and Mr. Albert, but the chairman of the full commerce committee and all six subcommittee chairmen. All but one were opposed to deregulation.” The group sought a delay in the consideration of the bill. The speaker said he had given his word to Krueger that the bill would go to the floor, so it was up to the congressman from Texas whether to delay or not. “At that point six of the seven chairmen turned to me, and 150 years of combined seniority came to bear on a first-term freshman,” Krueger wrote. The group wanted to hold more hearings, thus the push for a delay. But when the members refused to set a date for floor consideration, Krueger held the speaker to his word. The bill was brought up on schedule, but in the end Krueger’s amendment lost to a compromise bill, 205-201. Asked by the Observer if the goings-on in the speaker’s office led to his exclu June 3, 1977 7 Congressman Bob Krueger
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