The Revolt In The House: A Debate on Energy, The Old-Fashioned Way

“God has given us an abundance of natural resources, an abundance, and we are the only nation on earth that has the capability of using our own natural resources that’s not.  That can’t continue to go on.”  Cong. Lynn Westmoreland, R-GA

Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia has never been a go along to get along kind of guy and he hasn’t been in Congress long enough to have it change him.  On Friday, Lynn Westmoreland had enough.  More than 40 members were left to speak on energy when the Democrat House Leadership let the gavel fall on this part of the session.  Westmoreland said, “it was more than some of us could take.” So the gentleman from South Georgia stood up ad in his own words, “started hollering from the floor.”

He stood up and started addressing the Gallery and those watching became quiet.  Westmoreland was overwhelmed by the quiet but kept on talking as long as his voice would allow.  In an interview Monday morning, he said, “I talked until I lost my voice and then Pence got up from Indiana, then, of course, Price got up (from Georgia), Poe from Texas.  There were probably about 8-10 of us there and then the unbelievable thing was once we got it going; it was almost 5 and a half hours.”

This was an historic event.  The gavel had gone down on the energy debate and the House was in recess. The Speaker of the House and her leadership were in essence saying that “we don’t want to hear from you.” Then one guy in an unplanned manner got up and started talking to the Gallery.  It was a “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” moment, but it wasn’t just one man.  Mike Pence from Indiana, Tom Price from Georgia, Ted Poe from Texas, Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia, Marcia Blackburn from Tennessee as well as the others present are in many ways the conscience of the Republican Caucus and they are always holding the rest of the Caucus accountable.

It was a watershed moment.  Lynn Westmoreland could only take so much of the failed Pelosi promises.  This was the Speaker who was going to be the most open and honest Congress in history and they were going to listen to the minority.  The straw that broke the Speaker’s back was that she wasn’t going to allow a debate about energy policy because she declared it a hoax.  She declared the concerns of the American people a hoax.  The truth is, she knew a real debate would lead to a vote and she would lose.

On Friday the call to arms was sent out and Republican members returned to the House.  Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas was at Reagan Airport and retuned to join the upstarts in the House. There was a feeling of history.  These men and women weren’t sure if anything like had ever happened in the House but they were sure they were a part of something historic.

So what’s next, is this a movement or a moment?  Lynn Westmoreland says it is the beginning.  Westmoreland and other members were in Washington on Monday to meet with the leadership and to take their positions again.  Shortly after 10 am, members began rising in the chamber to speak.  Lynn Westmoreland spoke again.  “I flew up here this morning and I think it’s important that the American people hear from us, because we’ve been completely shut out and the media hasn’t been helpful to us either but we are taking the case to the American people,” Westmoreland said before he arrived at the Capitol.  “When you tell people that we spend $170 million a day that goes directly into the pocket of Hugo Chavez–$170 million—money that could be staying in an American company creating American jobs–people understand that.” Westmoreland continues by making the case that these are great jobs, high paying jobs and once the American people find this out, they say, “why are we doing this?”  The “this” is Drilling Here, Drilling Now and Paying Less.

Westmoreland goes on to address the new tact that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Obama have backed in drawing down the strategic oil reserve.  Let’s see now—they don’t want to drill oil from Alaska or the Outer Continental Shelf because it would take too long to get but they do want to draw down from the about 35 day supply of oil that we have for emergencies.  Does that seem illogical to you, it sure does to me.  All our enemies have to do is wait until we are down to about a weeks worth of oil and the shut down the supply.  We’ve got to maintain the full strategic oil reserve for an actual national security emergency.

The attack on “Big Oil” is losing steam.  We are actually subsidizing the wind and solar folks to a much greater degree than the oil companies in America.  We are subsidizing the environmental wackos and Democrat supporters.  I can’t blame the Democrats for trying.  In 2006, they told Americans what they wanted to hear and didn’t deliver but they got a majority.  There is no reason for them to think it won’t work this time.

Except for the tenacity of guys like Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.  He and his colleagues should travel to every contested Congressional district in America and tell the tale they told in the House Chamber for the last two days.  I know the pundits have been saying the House will lose 20, 30, 50 or 70 seats in November—but it was those same pundits that thought it would be a Giuliani/Clinton race this fall.  To the Republican Caucus, this is the issue, this is the time, don’t lose your nerve.