A bill that calls for expedited small-scale exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) on Thursday passed the House with bipartisan support.

House Resolution (HR) 4606, aka the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, calls for amending the Natural Gas Act by allowing the Department of Energy (DOE) to issue an export authorization for any complete application that proposes exports of up to 140 MMcf/d, and which does not require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.

HR 4606, which passed on a 26-146 vote, with 37 Democrats and 223 Republicans voting in favor, now moves on to the Senate. Three Republicans and 143 Democrats were opposed.

DOE proposed a rule one year ago for quicker approval of small-scale LNG exports, especially to countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Last October, DOE's Regulatory Reform Task Force issued a final report reaffirming the proposed rule. A final rule was published in July in the Federal Register and took effect on Aug. 24.

"This legislation would ensure that the DOE rule will become law and not subject to the whims of future presidential administrations and policies," said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), the bill's co-sponsor. "The Senate needs to take the baton from us and pass this legislation so it can be signed into law."

Before the final vote, the House rejected amendments proposed by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Diana DeGette (D-CO). Lawmakers also turned back a motion to recommit by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

"Our neighbors in South America, Central America and the Caribbean are praying for American LNG instead of fuel oil from unstable and collapsing Venezuela," Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) said before the vote against the Coleman motion. "Let's answer those prayers today."

Johnson introduced the bill last December. It passed the muster of the House Subcommittee on Energy in April.