???Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.??? — Nobel Laureate Economist Milton Friedman
Last week, a bad new era in American energy policy began. The House of Representatives passed a ???sham??? energy bill, as House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) put it. According to Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), this ???Democrat no-energy energy bill embodies the rhetoric-first, solutions-last brand of leadership that has made this Democratic Congress the most unpopular in our nation???s history. By failing to provide states with the opportunity to share in the revenues generated by offshore drilling, the bill gives governors and state legislatures no incentive whatsoever to opt-in.???
Although the bill does open up some offshore areas to drilling, it sets up a revenue sharing scheme that wouldn???t give states any incentive to participate. The bill contains a provision allowing some oil shale excavation in the Mountain West but as a whole is a half measure. The bill actually forever bans drilling within 50 miles of shore and makes law the annual funding rider that was set to expire on October 1st.
Ironically, the bill put liberal members of Congress and their environmentalist allies on record supporting some offshore drilling. Pelosi and the Sierra Club now support offshore drilling and allowing western states to opt-in to oil shale production.
The Sierra Club claimed the bill was worthy of their support even ???while far from ideal??? and Pelosi called the legislation ???a bold step forward.??? Unfortunately for Americans, the expansion in offshore drilling is an expansion in name only, putting most resource-rich areas under a permanent moratorium.
The good news for conservatives is that the debate is now focused on where to drill, and the U.S. Senate seems to have gotten the message. With momentum on their side, conservatives need to push for full access to these resources and a streamlined legal process.
Coburn Omnibus Part II
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that his misnamed ???Advancing America???s Priority Act??? bill would again be considered by the Senate. These are the same ???priorities??? rejected in July when Reid tried to ram through a package of about 100 bills that could have cost taxpayers millions.
The supposed priorities in that package included a $12 million greenhouse in Maryland and $4 million for a museum in Poland. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stood in the way the last time Reid attempted to steamroll this bill through the Senate and told Reid on the Senate floor to focus precious Senate floor time on America???s pressing energy crisis. That???s still excellent advice.
Second Amendment Firefight
Last week, the House passed legislation by a 266???152 margin to restore the Second Amendment rights of the residents of D.C. In July, the Supreme Court???s District of Columbia v. Heller decision struck down a citywide ban on the possession of a firearm. Legislation sponsored by Travis Childers (D-Miss.) would repeal the District???s ban on semiautomatic weapons, change the registration requirements for most guns, and force the District to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Meanwhile, after months of massive resistance, the D.C. City Council voted to slightly ease its unconstitutional restrictions on firearms in an effort to stall the stronger House bill.
Sadly, Sen. Reid refuses to schedule a vote in the Senate. This now seems like a transparent attempt by Speaker Pelosi to protect her pro-gun Democrats going into the Congressional elections this November by passing this bill in the expectation that the Senate will not consider the bill before the end of the year. Anti-gun senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.), will oppose it. She told Congressional Quarterly, ???I???d filibuster it. You bet your life I would. I think it is the height of folly.???
The one glimmer of hope is that Senate procedure allows any Senator to make a request, by unanimous consent of the Senate, that a House-passed bill pass intact and be sent directly to the President for his signature. ???I hope one Senator is brave enough to take this fight to the Senate floor in the remaining days of this Congress,??? John Velleco of Gun Owners of America says.
Indeed, conservatives want leaders in Congress who are willing step up and force the District of Columbia to respect the individual right of all Americans to keep and bear arms.