After five-plus weeks of brilliant offensive maneuvering, members of the Republican Revolt can finally take a turn on defense.
Right now, the ban on offshore drilling and oil shale recovery will expire October 1st. The “Do-Nothing” Congress will have to pass legislation to extend the ban, which, considering their nickname, should leave those chanting the “Drill, Baby, Drill” battle cry optimistic.
However, if Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic majority choose to make the ban part of a Continuing Resolution – a catch-all bill appropriating money to keep the government running because the Dems haven’t passed any of the annual appropriations measures — — it will be up to President Bush to veto it or accept another drilling ban. House Republicans have been working to make sure Bush knows he has support in the House should he choose to make this move. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx) and his compatriots have collected 150 signatures that guarantee a Bush veto will be sustained, regardless of what happens in the Senate.
“We have the signatures we need in the House to get the job done,” Hensarling told HUMAN EVENTS. “I have encouraged everybody I could speak to at the White House. I haven’t spoken to the president lately on it … But he knows that we have the signatures necessary to sustain the veto. I would hope that he would say, ‘You know, Madam Speaker, this is the single most important issue the people care about. There needs to be a separate vote.”
So far, however, the Bush administration has not committed to vetoing a continuing resolution.
Hensarling said Pelosi’s refusal to allow a separate vote goes against the “fair, open, honest, ethical Congress” she promised.
“I mean, to sit there and take the number one issue and slide it surreptitiously into some kind of continuing resolution I think is really an abrogation to her commitment and her word,” he said.
Should the Continuing Resolution not pass, the government will effectively “shut down” since its funding will be cut off. But Hensarling isn’t buying into the hype or the drama.
“I don’t want to shut down the government,” Hensarling said. “But for somebody to say because I won’t take everything Speaker Pelosi wants to do that somehow I’m shutting down the government is absolutely preposterous. All she has to do, since she didn’t get her appropriations bills done, is put up a continuing resolution that does not include renewing the offshore ban … the Democrats are in control — they’re the ones responsible for keeping the government open.”
The president needs to veto any continuing resolution that contains a drilling ban, should one reach his desk. If he refuses to do so, he will undercut everything the Republican Rebels have been fighting for and the people they represent. Americans have asked for the energy issue to be resolved, and continuing a failed policy is no solution. The floor of the House of Representatives is the last place the American people should be denied a voice.
The “Drill, Baby, Drill” contingent in the House will see what Democrats have to offer in their new energy package released Thursday. Early examination of the plan shows an increase in taxes on oil companies and keeps off limits almost 90% of recoverable resources in certain areas.
Hensarling said he is willing to consider energy packages the Democrats put on the table but will not accept “fig leaf” proposals. He also said majority leader Steny Hoyer has said the Republicans will be able to offer their American Energy Act, which has been the heart of the Republicans’ battle cry through their entire revolt: allow the people’s representatives a clear vote on the issue.
“It really has to do with is there an honest attempt to include American energy made by Americans in America in the bill and is there an open, fair process that allows Republican legislation to be voted on,” Hensarling said.