The last week before Congress’ August recess is typically a very busy one, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hammering out final details on key legislation they hope to get to the President’s desk before the month-long break. But the final weeks before both last year’s and this year’s August recesses – the first two under the Democrat-controlled Congress – were more turbulent than they were busy.
Last year, in the waning days before August recess, Democratic leaders infamously stole a House floor vote on a Republican proposal to block taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants, literally forcing House parliamentarians to back down from their initial vote tally so several Democrats could change their votes and defeat the proposal. Not to be outdone this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her colleagues in the Democratic leadership are again wielding their power to block legislation allowing more environmentally-safe drilling for oil and gas here at home to help bring down the price at the pump.
Though the tactics used to steal the vote on illegal immigration and block votes on American energy may have been different, the motivation behind them was exactly the same: they were doing the bidding of their special interest allies on the Left. In the case of the stolen illegal immigration vote, they were satisfying the demands of groups fighting to keep our borders wide open. And in the case of the blocked American energy vote, they were scrambling to please a tiny band of radical environmentalists, such as the Sierra Club, which has plainly stated that America is “better off without cheap gas” and is running ads in support of freshman Democrats.
By blocking a vote to increase American energy production, Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues on the other side of the Capitol, Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barack Obama (D-IL), have proven how amazingly out-of-touch with the American people they really are. In poll after poll, Americans are showing their strong support for drilling far off our nation’s shores and on remote federal lands – and that includes a poll released yesterday showing that a majority of Californians actually disagree with Speaker Pelosi on the issue of deepwater energy exploration. Yet week after week, Speaker Pelosi kept her gag order on the House, continuing to stonewall a vote for more drilling.
The House Republican proposal – appropriately titled the American Energy Act – actually would spur more than just new drilling. Not only would it increase production of American energy far offshore, on federal lands in the Inter-Mountain West, and in remote areas of Alaska’s North Slope, but it also would encourage conservation and efficiency and promote alternative forms of energy, such as biofuels and nuclear. We call it the “all of the above” strategy for energy independence.
The American Energy Act recognizes our energy needs now and promotes the energy technologies of tomorrow. Everyone recognizes that the future of American energy is not in traditional forms like coal, oil, and gas. However, until new renewable and alternative technologies like solar, nuclear, and coal-to-liquids are affordable and available, we need a bridge to get us there. And that’s why more drilling now is essential. America has the resources we need to fight our way through this energy crisis. All Congress needs to do is unlock them. But this week, the Democratic leaders of the Drill-Nothing Congress took the keys and went home instead.
Earlier this week, I warned Speaker Pelosi and her leadership colleagues that they were blocking this vote and going home at their own peril. Gas prices remain high nationwide – some $1.50 higher than they were when the Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007. And with fall and winter just around the corner, you can be sure that home heating costs are poised to soar as well.
In other words, while Democratic leaders may be running away from an American energy vote in Washington, they simply will not be able to hide from the issue when they are back at home. All month long, the calls for more drilling will continue to intensify, particularly as families take those last vacations and weekend trips of the summer. And you can count on House Republicans continuing to do our part as well: promoting our “all of the above” energy strategy and demanding a long-overdue vote on the American Energy Act