The White House on Monday rejected calls from congressional Republicans to convene a special session of Congress to deal with rising energy costs.
“We don’t have plans to call Congress into session — it won’t make a difference if Democratic leaders are unwilling to bring up a bill for an up-down vote," said Tony Fratto, White House spokesman.
Republican congressmen returned to a darkened House floor on Monday to continue speaking about how to solve the sky-rocketing price of gasoline as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to allow a vote on a proposal to allow more domestic oil drilling.
Last week the House adjourned for a five week vacation without addressing the energy crisis. When Republican members decided to speak out on the issue after Democrats forced the adjournment, Pelosi pulled the plug on the House, turning off the lights, microphones and C-SPAN cameras.
The White House was responding to a request made in a letter from Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R. –Tex.) on Friday seeking presidential intervention.
“Since Speaker Pelosi has decided not to keep the House in session to allow this vote to take place, we urge you to use the power vested in you by the Constitution to convene an immediate energy special session of Congress,” the congressmen wrote in the letter.
Rep. Tom Price (R.- Ga.) and Rep Pence, writing in Human Events, said “When confronted with a misguided democrat majority party and Speaker Pelosi…who ignored the will of the people and adjourned the House for a five week vacation without addressing the most important issue of our day, the rising price of gasoline, we felt it important to organize a number of our colleagues to commit to take advantage of their right and speak for five minutes on this injustice.”
With the energy issue starting to dominate the presidential campaign, Barack Obama on Monday reversed himself and said that the government should sell 70 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve. His campaign also released a new ad reiterating his plan for a windfall tax on oil company profits.
John McCain, meanwhile, repeated his call for more oil drilling off the U.S. coast. "Anybody who says that we can achieve energy independence without using and increasing these existing energy resources either doesn’t have the experience to understand the challenge that we face or isn’t giving the American people some straight talk."
GOP congressmen vow to keep pressure on Pelosi and plan to keep speaking on the House floor for the rest of this week. Some 20 members took part in Monday’s challenge to the House Speaker.
HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi described Friday’s bizarre scene: “On what was expected to be a day of routine business and adjournment for the next five weeks, the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives suddenly became Washington’s equivalent of a barroom brawl. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted repeatedly to shut down lawmakers from making the five-minute speeches that traditionally mark the closing of a House session, angry conservatives on the Republican side rebelled, turned on microphones that the speaker had shut off, and kept the House press gallery in operation as more and more reporters came by to see what on earth was happening.
“Perhaps the happiest lawmaker I spoke to today was Rep. Thad McCotter (R.-Mich.), who has long urged Republican to capture traditional conservative theory and unite with strong tactics based on issues. Using the language of the rock ‘n’roll guitarist that he sometimes is, McCotter described the day’s remarkable events as ‘Republican riff on Yippie Street Theater on Pelosi.’”
Republican leaders John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) said in a press release over the weekend: “The American people are suffering. 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.”
Pelosi addressed the controversy over the weekend on ABC’s "This Week." "What you saw in the Congress this week was the war dance of the hand maidens of the oil companies," she said. "That’s what you saw on the Republican side of the aisle."