Monday, July 28, 2008

ICYMI: A Defining Week for Congress

By Rep. John Boehner
July 28, 2008

The final week before the August district work period is typically among the busiest of all for Congress - and usually one during which major legislation is passed in advance of the lengthy recess away from Washington. The pressure is on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barack Obama (D-IL), and their colleagues in the Democratic leadership to carry on that tradition this week by bringing to the floor of each chamber comprehensive legislation that increases production of American energy to address the number one issue on the minds of the American people: the rising cost of gasoline.

Today begins a defining week for Congress. All year long, gas prices have soared as a result of misguided Washington policies. Even with the small recent dip since President Bush ended the executive ban on deepwater drilling far off our shores (a ban that Congress also needs to lift in order for critical energy production to take place in the oil-and gas-rich Outer Continental Shelf), families and small businesses know we will never see $2 or even $3 per gallon gasoline until the Democratic Majority signals real support for American-made energy to lower gas prices. Over the next five days, Congress has a chance to make this commitment - but only if Democratic leaders allow it.

Throughout the summer, Republicans have asked for a vote on an "all of the above" energy strategy built on increased exploration, conservation, and innovation - the reforms Americans solidly support in poll after poll. And throughout the summer, the Democratic leaders of Congress have made every excuse to block a vote - all at the behest of a tiny band of radical special-interest groups that support high gas prices and aim to keep America's vast energy resources under lock-and-key. Speaker Peosi plainly stated in a recent CNN interview, in fact, that when it comes to allowing a vote on the reforms the American people expect and support, she has "no plans to do so." ...

Last week, House Republicans transformed our "all of the above" plan into a single piece of legislation: the American Energy Act, which encourages conservation and efficiency, promotes alternative forms of energy such as biofuels and nuclear, and increases production of American energy far offshore, on federal lands in the Inter-Mountain West, and in remote areas of Alaska's North Slope. This bill would pass Congress with a strong, bipartisan majority right now ... if only it was put to a simple up-or-down vote.

If the Democratic Majority refuses to allow a vote later this week on the American Energy Act, House Republicans will stand firmly against a vote to adjourn for the August break. Prior to a lengthy recess, the adjournment vote is usually cast without a second thought. But this week, that vote could mean much, much more. A vote to adjourn without increasing production of American energy to bring down gas prices will be a vote against the American people and a vote against American energy independence. It will be a vote against increased energy exploration, conservation, and innovation. And yes, it will be a vote against lower gas prices - and for continued and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

Just as this is a defining week for this "drill-nothing" Congress, the adjournment vote could be a defining one for the Democratic Majority. Casting a "yea" or "nay" on that vote would be the difference between heeding the calls of the American people, who strongly support more American-made energy to reduce gas prices, or continuing to defy their will by leaving town for five weeks of politics and vacations - and leaving them to fend for themselves amid energy costs that will only soar higher this fall and beyond.

John Boehner is a United States Representative from Ohio and the Republican leader in the U.S. House.

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