At least the House Republicans who have stayed behind during recess to try to persuade Nancy Pelosi to call the House back into session for an energy bill that includes expanded domestic production through drilling. The American Spectator and Americans for Tax Reform held a Newsmaker Breakfast this morning with Congressmen Mike Pence (Ind.), Bob Goodlatte (Va.), and Dan Burton (Ind.) to talk about the House GOP’s energy protests and what they hope to accomplish.
All three men emphasized that high energy prices have created hardships in their district and that they want to pass a bill rather than simply use the issue for political advantage. They described a “bipartisan majority” in favor of more drilling, saying that as many as 50 Democrats would vote with the Republicans if Pelosi allowed a bill to reach the floor. They mentioned Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) as someone who has been working toward a compromise on the other side of the aisle, though they said he would leave ANWR drilling off the table in order to bring in more Democrats.
Their talks overlapped, but Goodlatte focused on the economic impact of high energy prices and made the case that increased production would provide both short- and long-term relief. Burton brought up the foreign-policy angle, arguing that our lack of energy independence was causing us to subsidize “people who don’t like us,” including purveyors of radical Islam. Pence exhorted conservative media, bloggers, and activists to spread the message about what the Republicans were doing on energy policy. He also said that the best strategy for voters is to call their own congressman, especially if he or she is a Democrat, rather than to contact the speaker directly.
I stopped by the House floor to watch Pence and his fellow Republicans in action, calling for Congress to return to Washington. Todd Tihart of Kansas, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, and Joe Barton of Texas were some of the other members present. Their session opened with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, and Barton gave a brief civics lesson to the watching tourists before launching into his pro-drilling arguments.