- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2001

House Republicans yesterday got their marching orders to sell their constituents on President Bush's energy plan, which is stalled on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers had planned to take up the administration's energy proposal after passing Mr. Bush's tax cut and education plan, but action faltered after Democrats took control of the Senate.
Frustrated Republican leaders say they have asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, to move the debate forward, but their requests are being ignored.
"We are being held hostage by Daschle, who wants to avoid solving this problem," said Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican.
Responsibility for pushing forward with the policy now lies with the House, still controlled by Republicans whose first objective during the Fourth of July recess is to remind constituents why energy costs are skyrocketing.
"Eight years of neglect by the Clinton administration has led to the point where more than half of our oil is imported," said a "talking points" statement issued by the Republican Conference.
"Our gas supply and national security are in the hands of Moammar Khaddafi, Saddam Hussein and OPEC," the statement said.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said an energy policy is needed to increase domestic energy supplies and production in an environmentally responsible manner.
"The Democrats' failure to act on comprehensive energy legislation poses a real danger to America's economic health and national security," said Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican.
"We must act in an environmentally responsible way, we must increase conservation; however, we cannot conserve our way out of an energy shortage. Jimmy Carter taught us that," Mr. Lott said.
A team of House Republican legislators is meeting weekly to plan strategy, communication and movement of legislation with final passage by August, said a leadership aide.
The communication strategy includes targeted mailings, sample opinion pieces and news releases, and PowerPoint computer presentations. The overriding theme is the economy has slowed, energy prices are rising, parts of the country face energy shortages or potential blackouts, and Congress should pass Mr. Bush's policy.
"The summer season is here and energy prices are unstable," Rep. J.C. Watts, Oklahoma Republican and conference chairman, said in the package cover letter to his colleagues.
"This is reason enough to tell your constituents about our ideas for a comprehensive energy strategy. From electricity to gasoline, Americans are feeling the heat during this energy crunch," Mr. Watts said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are using a procedural tool to force a bill from the House Commerce and Energy Committee to cap the price of wholesale electricity in California.
"Democrats will continue to fight to bring a price-caps bill to the floor and have a genuine debate and then a vote on one of the most important issues facing millions of Americans this year," said House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat.
Mr. Gephardt called the administration's energy plan a "GOP: grand oil payback" to oil supporters and released a Democratic Policy Committee report that said Republican leaders are "beholden to big energy."
"Republican congressional campaigns, like the Bush campaign, have raked in millions from big energy," the report said.
Republicans are growing impatient with Democrats' stall tactics on addressing the energy crisis.
"We're going to put an energy policy on Tom Daschle's front door by the August recess while he does nothing but twiddle his thumbs and Gephardt runs for president," said a House Republican leadership aide.

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