Frustrated Congressmen Launch Bipartisan Group on Energy Prices

By Josiah Ryan | July 14, 2008 | 6:55 PM EDT

( - Accusing the House leadership of being “locked into their political positions,” a Democratic congressional aide who asked not to be identified by name told Cybercast News Service about plans to launch a bipartisan coalition to uncover real and immediate solutions to skyrocketing energy prices.
“If we remain locked in opposing political positions instead of working together to find real solutions, it will be a death struggle that puts the U.S. economy and our way of life at profound risk,” Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) in a statement on Thursday. “The country will miss an opportunity to declare energy independence from unstable, overseas supplies.”
“In order for us to remain competitive and rescue ourselves from a second ‘great depression,’ Washington needs to put the politics aside and address the crisis,” Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) said.
According Dave Helfert, a spokesman for Abercrombie, new drilling, conservation, tapping the strategic petroleum reserve, and funding the development of renewable energy, will each be considered as possible solutions by the coalition.
Helfert told Cybercast News Service that the group hopes to begin with just 10 rank-and-file members from each side of the aisle.
“We want to begin small and avoid becoming unwieldy so we can develop a comprehensive plan for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term,” said Halfert. “This group will come up with something both sides can agree on.”
Helfert said the group hopes to introduce their findings as a bill or multiple pieces of legislation.
But a senior staffer who is associated with the group told Cybercast News Service the coalition’s greatest obstacle could be the House leadership, which he says is mired in partisan politics.
“The Democrat and Republican leadership are locked into their political positions,” he told Cybercast News Service on Friday. “We are not content to just sit and adopt a political position that doesn’t really do all that needs to be done to solve the problem,” he said. “Neither side really has practical ideas to solve the problem.”
The staffer also told Cybercast News Service that the group hopes it will not have to resort to procedural tactics to force the legislation past the leadership to the House floor. “The members hope there will be a lot of common ground and that the Republicans and Democratic leadership see the bill is well supported.”
Though the members of the coalition will not be announced until Tuesday, a source told Cybercast News Service that the Democratic members who have been invited include Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas).