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Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wears a face mask as he walks out of the House chamber on April 23, 2020.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wears a face mask as he walks out of the House chamber on April 23, 2020. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)


Steny Hoyer Ripped by Progressive Primary Challenger for Backing Fossil Fuel Bailout in Covid-19 Bill

"This is not the time to invest in dirty energy through federal petroleum purchases."

Eoin Higgins

The progressive Democrat challenging House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in Maryland's upcoming primary is blasting the powerful incumbent for going to bat for fossil fuel industry bailouts in House legislation that could be voted on as early as Friday night.

"Congressman Hoyer's recent vocal support of bailing out the oil and gas industry is shameful," said Mckayla Wilkes, who is challenging Hoyer in Maryland's Democratic primary on June 2. "This is not the time to invest in dirty energy through federal petroleum purchases."

"We need to act now on climate change by divesting away from fossil fuels and enacting a green stimulus package," Wilkes added, "before it's too late."

Hoyer's comments on Tuesday in a conference call with reporters about the HEROES Act that it was "time to restock the Strategic Petroleum Reserve" were seen by climate action advocates as indicative of his desire to shovel cash at Big Oil even as regular Americans are suffering due to the myriad economic and health crises exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak.

"This is just one example of Congressman Hoyer's failure to approach the climate crisis with the urgency it requires," said Wilkes.

That Hoyer added in his remarks that House Democrats do not "have any intention of discriminating against a company because of the kind of business it does" only made things worse, said Oil Change International senior campaigner Collin Rees.

"Equating a bailout for Big Oil with basic protections for nurses and healthcare workers in a pandemic is completely egregious," said Rees.

As Common Dreams reported, climate activists are demanding the House incorporate the Resources for Workforce Investments, Not Drilling (ReWIND) Act, which bars the administration from funneling coronavirus relief funding into bailouts for fossil fuel companies. 

"House leadership must stand up for working people without throwing a lifeline to fossil fuel billionaires," said Rees. "That means including the provisions of the ReWIND Act in the next iteration of the HEROES Act and continuing to fight against Big Oil bailouts in future stimulus packages."

Rees also called on Congress to ensure that necessary legislation to protect essential workers and regular Americans not include measures that will continue to contribute to the climate crisis.

"It's time to put people over polluters once and for all," he said. 

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