House Passes Legislation to Extend Operation of the Helium Reserve; Attention Turns to Senate
April 26, 2013
The House of Representatives today has passed H.R. 527, "The Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act," with overwhelming bipartisan support - 394 "Yes" votes and only one "No" vote.
The bill provides for the continued operation of the Federal Helium Reserve beyond the sunset mandated under current law, breaking up the transition to privatization into three phases. The bill intends to bring market stability and ensure continuous access of helium to both industrial and commercial users.
During consideration of the legislation by the House, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3) singled out balloon manufacturing as one of the industries at stake in the debate over the helium supply.
H.R. 527 was passed after the adoption of three amendments. One amendment affirms that private-sector refiners can hook up to the Federal Helium Reserve. Another stipulates that any revenue from helium sales will go into deficit reduction. The third amendment will assess and encourage development of future sources of helium. When this amendment was proposed, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee welcomed the change and indicated that the Committee will work beyond this legislation on ensuring a stable supply of helium by developing new sources.
The Balloon Council is pleased that the House of Representatives recognized the importance of this issue, in a bipartisan fashion, and with sufficient time for Congress to address this important matter before October 2013 when authority for the Federal Helium Reserve would otherwise sunset under current law.
Attention now turns to the Senate, where Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released draft legislation earlier this year.
We will continue to keep you updated on this important issue as new actions occur.