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US House passes gasoline price gouging bill

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives narrowly passed the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act [HR 1252 summary; JURIST report] Wednesday, approving heavy criminal penalties for oil companies and individuals who take "unfair advantage" or charge "unconscionably excessive" prices for fuel. House leaders used an expedited legislative process, so the bill required a two-thirds majority and passed by 284-141 [roll call]. The Bush administration and opponents of the bill called it a vague form of price control. The White House said Wednesday that Bush's advisors would recommend he veto the bill [policy statement, PDF] if the Senate equivalent [S 1263 summary] passes as well.

Last May, the House passed a similar bill [JURIST report], the Federal Energy Price Protection Act [PDF text], that would have required the FTC to define price gouging within six months of the bill's final passage. That bill failed in the Senate. AP has more.

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