House Adjourned, But GOP Will Be Back
August 4, 2008 - 8:41 AMHouse Republicans promised to be back on the House floor Monday to continue the protest that began Friday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent lawmakers home for the summer without allowing a vote on energy legislation.
In a memo sent to GOP Members and staff on Saturday, Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) encouraged House Republicans to return to the Capitol on Monday morning to keep the “historic” protest going.
“It’s not a request we make lightly. But the American people are suffering,” Boehner and Blunt said in the memo. “The consequences of continued congressional inaction on gas prices are unacceptable. We’ve called on the Speaker to call Congress back into an emergency session this month and schedule a vote on the American Energy Act. We must continue to make a stand until the Speaker complies.”
Republicans are pushing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes expanded domestic oil drilling, more nuclear power, the development of alternative sources of energy, and conservation.
“We realize not everyone can be in Washington next week. But if you can be, we ask that you come to the Capitol, join our colleagues, and lend your voice, beginning this Monday at 10:00 am,” the GOP leaders wrote. “If you can’t be in Washington, we ask that you contribute to the cause in other ways – such as spreading the word among your constituents, writing an op-ed for your local newspaper, or taking our ‘all of the above’ energy message to your local airwaves.”
On Friday, in an unusual protest against Democratic inaction on oil drilling, Republicans stood up one after another to demand that Congress stay in session until it does something about high gas prices.
GOP lawmakers and their aides filled the chamber after Congress was adjourned, whistling, clapping, chanting, and booing Democrats.
According to the Associated Press, it was a rare treat for tourists. Republicans invited many, in their shorts and sandals, into the chamber, usually strictly off-limits, to better hear the speeches, the A.P. reported.
Republicans are angry that Democrats blocked them from voting on legislation that would allow more off-shore oil drilling and increasing domestic oil supplies.
The protest came just minutes after House Republican leaders delivered a letter to Speaker Pelosi demanding that she call the House back into emergency session this month to deal with America’s ever-worsening energy crisis.
“With American families and small businesses facing record high gasoline prices, Congress has adjourned to leave Washington for a five-week break,” the letter said. “The message this sends to the American people is bad enough; its ramifications, however, are far worse. You have the power to call Congress back into session at any moment to deal with issues of urgent national importance…”
“Congress should not take the next five weeks off while the American people suffer at the pump. We respectfully request that you schedule a vote on the comprehensive American Energy Act during an emergency legislative session this month.”
Republicans say Friday’s floor revolt is a preview of what Democrats can expect during the August break -- “House Republicans continuing to hold the Democratic Majority accountable for their refusal to listen to the American people struggling with high gas prices.” Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Pelosi was adamant that she would not allow a vote on any bill that includes more offshore or Alaskan oil drilling.
She insisted that Democrats have presented options that will have an immediate effect on prices at the pump (including diverting oil intended for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve), whereas the Republicans’ call to drill more oil at home will not have an immediate effect on prices.
“This is a decoy, not a solution,” Pelosi said of expanded domestic oil drilling. "I'm not giving the gavel away to a tactic … that supports Big Oil at the cost and the expense of the consumer."