GOP House Members Back for Day 3

Posted August 5, 2008 at 10:36am

Updated: 12:38 p.m.

House Republicans protesting Tuesday on the chamber floor for a third day are taking credit for some of the recent fall in gas prices, as they continue to call for a vote on oil and gas drilling.

“Gas prices have gone down, and they’ve gone down in part because the market is realizing that this kind of pressure from the Congress may actually cause a change in American policy,” said Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), one of the ringleaders of the protest demanding that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bring Congress back to vote on oil exploration measures.

With television cameras shut out again from the floor and the microphones muted, about a dozen Republicans kept up their fight, with some suggesting the protest could last all month, and perhaps peak during the Democratic National Convention.

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, brought his 12-year-old son Clark to the Capitol for the event.

McCrery, who is retiring, said Congress just hasn’t done much.

“This energy issue, finally I think, we’re getting some traction on, and we have a chance to get something positive done this year for the American people,” he said. “That’s why I’m here today. That’s why I took some time off being with my son doing things he’d rather do to come to the Capitol today.”

And Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said people in his state and elsewhere now support offshore drilling.

“There has been a sea change on drilling in the ocean. … It’s becoming more and more apparent, even in the state of Florida,” Stearns said, adding that his state is suffering without cheaper gas. “It’s affecting our tourism, it’s affecting jobs throughout our state.”

Democrats have dismissed the protests and the White House has indicated that President Bush also will not call Congress back into session. Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) called on President Bush to bring Congress back into session to address gas prices.

In a letter Tuesday to Bush, Specter urged the president to “call Congress back into session to use the August recess to legislate on energy” issues, arguing that Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) use of procedural tactics to limit Republican amendments has undermined the chamber’s ability to “perform its traditional function and legislate.”

Specter’s letter comes as Senate Republicans are fanning out across the country for the August recess. Although GOP leadership aides in the chamber said there is no plan for a protest in the Senate similar to the one under way in the House, chamber Republicans support the House effort.

“It was a good, splashy move for them,” one leadership aide said. According to Republicans, with the Conference scattered, leadership will simply use messaging efforts already under way that highlight the need for Congressional action rather than developing new materials to support the House protest. For instance, Republicans are releasing a Web video this week featuring 15 Senators “calling on Congress to finish the job on energy,” the aide said. That video was produced during the last week Congress was in session, well before House Republicans began their floor maneuver.

Republicans’ recess messaging packets included language on the need for Congress to continue working on the issue, as well as critiques of Reid’s decision to break for the August recess before completing work on an energy bill.

Also today, MoveOn members will gather on Capitol Hill to offer a counterprotest to the House GOP. The liberal group plans to protest what they call the Republican’s efforts to help large oil companies.