- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008


House Republicans are on good footing along the path of redemption. Their effort to forego the month-long vacation called the “August recess” and stay in Washington to work on energy solutions is certainly the right thing to do, and it is in the best interests of the American people.

After being vilified by Democrats the past few years for everything from corruption to their own habit of taking too many lengthy breaks and leaving town when more work was needed, Rep. John Boehner has put his foot down and said “no more.” The press has covered the Republicans’ protest of the recess as a frivolous gesture, but it is much more than that. Unlike the 2003 reverse filibuster that Senate Republicans held in protest of Democrats blocking votes on judicial nominations, there is an energy problem in America, and the people can see it every day when they fill up their gas tanks and take a peek at their gas and electricity bills.

And here is a hint of how bad the Democrats actually look: Congress has passed energy legislation in some form or another every year over the past eight years, But somehow in 2008, when gas has risen above $4 a gallon and a barrel of oil is at a record-high cost, the Democratic leadership is all of a sudden unwilling to have energy votes. The Democrats’ position doesn’t pass the smell test. The reason no votes are being allowed is because many of the rank-and-file Democrats will vote yes on removing the moratorium on offshore drilling and vote yes on leasing the land for oil and gas exploration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi couldn’t be bothered with high gas prices’ effect on working men and women in and around her California district, as Republican Rep. Wally Herger pointed out Tuesday. Mr. Herger’s rural, working-class congressional district borders Mrs. Pelosi’s district, and his constituents are struggling daily to make the commute to San Francisco - as they are the primary labor force needed to sustain the metropolis that seems to serve only the wealthy with average home prices of $1 million. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “Democrats today are proactively offering short-term solutions to high costs at the pump, as well as a long-term strategy to break our dependence on foreign oil. It’s a shame Republicans are more interested in playing games than enacting real solutions.” But how can Republicans or Democrats act when you and the other Democratic leaders are at home and refuse to reconvene?

Meanwhile, the presidential candidates -whose energy positions on oil exploration and more investment in renewable and alternative sources of energy are more similar than they are different - are talking about doing something. John McCain on Tuesday: “Congress should come back into session, and I’m willing to come off the campaign trail. I call on Senator Obama to call on Congress to come back into town and come back to work.” Mr. Obama’s campaign spokesman Bill Burton told the New York Times, “If Senator McCain is willing to pass a compromise that provides immediate relief to consumers in the form a $1,000 energy rebate and makes a serious investment in renewable energy, Senator Obama would be happy to join him in calling on Congress to return. But if he continues to reject any compromise that takes away tax breaks for the same oil companies that have given millions to his campaign, as he did on Friday, we’d rather not waste the American people’s tax dollars.”

President Bush has the authority to call for a special session. He should.

We urge Republicans to keep up the good fight on behalf of all Americans. Polls have consistently indicated that Americans - Republicans and Democrats alike - want homegrown solutions to the energy problem. Give-and-take, not have-to from the Democrats is what will get us there.

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