- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The House Republicans’ unprecedented nationwide gas-prices protest is now in its third full week. My Republican colleagues and I have vowed to continue the historic uprising - in Washington and in communities across the country - until the House returns to session for a vote on the American Energy Act, our “all of the above” plan to lower gas prices. Whether that means ending the protest tomorrow or next month is up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. While the speaker used a radio address last weekend to unveil yet another flawed plan that will do little to lower gas prices, she remained silent about bringing Congress back to Washington from its summer recess to deal with the No. 1 issue on the minds of the American people.

As the title of her new book suggests, the Speaker knows she had the power to avoid this uprising altogether. Rather than working with Republicans to bolster America’s energy production, conservation and innovation, on Aug. 1, Democrats voted to adjourn Congress for a five-week break while American families and small businesses were left hanging in the balance. Refusing to be silenced, Republicans stayed on the House floor after the Democrats’ left town to continue promoting our strategy for energy independence to those watching on television. The Speaker responded by dimming the lights, shutting down the cameras and turning off the microphones.

Led by my colleagues Mike Pence from Indiana and Tom Price and Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia, some 50 Republicans refused to go home that day, choosing instead to stay in the chamber for hours, speaking to Americans sitting in the gallery - and later, on the House floor - about our plan to bring down prices at the pump. Since that first day, 114 Republicans have taken part in the floor revolt - a truly unprecedented event, the likes of which I have never seen in my nearly 18 years in Congress. And in communities across the country, all 199 House Republicans are taking our plan for American energy independence directly to the American people - in Rotary Club meetings, at gas stations and in our local newspapers.

None of this is sitting very well with the Speaker and her colleagues. For one thing, they are on the wrong side of this issue, and they know it. Poll after poll shows that Americans support drilling for oil and gas in an environmentally safe manner on remote federal lands in Alaska and the Inter-Mountain West, as well as far off our coasts in the Outer Continental Shelf. But rather than working with us to unlock these valuable resources, Democrats continue to do the bidding of their special interest allies by blocking legislation to increase American energy production. And all of us are paying the price … literally.

The normally quiet month of August has been an uncomfortable one for congressional Democrats. For proof, look no further than Mrs. Pelosi’s comments over the weekend that Democratic leaders have yet another plan. Unfortunately, it’s largely more of the same failed policies the Speaker has been trotting out for months that will do little to lower gas prices and is designed solely to give political cover to vulnerable Democrats taking heat for their inaction on meaningful energy solutions. What’s telling is that the Speaker’s so-called plan has already been endorsed by one of its biggest special interest allies - the Sierra Club - which stated plainly that America is “better off without cheap gas” and whose anti-American energy is a matter of record.

My message to my Republican colleagues and every American fed up with high gas prices is to step on the accelerator, so to speak. House Republicans are standing with stressed out families, small business owners, and seniors, and we will continue to hold the Democrat-controlled Congress accountable for its failure to address this crisis - one in which fuel costs have soared by 60 percent since Mrs. Pelosi took the gavel on Jan. 4, 2007.

We will not let up until the Democratic leadership finally allows a vote on the American Energy Act, and we encourage Americans to let their voices be heard. If they continue to call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask the Speaker - and her Democratic colleagues - to allow a vote, House Republicans will continue to do our part in the dim House chamber and in communities across the country. Together, we will overcome the Democratic majority’s anti-American energy agenda and help ease the pain at the pump.

Rep. John Boehner, Ohio Republican, is minority leader of the House of Representatives.

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