(CNSNews.com) - A Republican plan to open more public land to oil exploration and drilling is “unworthy of serious debate,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Monday.
Under pressure from Republicans to call Congress back into session, Pelosi on Monday issued a statement saying that Democrats have already offered a “real solution” to the nation’s high energy prices.
Democrats want to force President Bush to “free our oil” from the nation’s emergency stockpile. Diverting oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve “would bring immediate relief within 10 days,” Pelosi insisted.
She said a Republican plan to “give away public lands to Big Oil” will not immediately reduce prices at the pump -- and it would save Americans “only 2 cents ten years from now.”
“This Republican hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to reduce the price at the pump and promote energy independence,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi accused Republicans of promoting the interests of “Big Oil” and the Bush administration, something that has resulted in $4-a-gallon gasoline, she said.
Republicans favor an “all-of-the-above” approach to the energy crunch. They want expanded domestic oil drilling, expanded nuclear power, conservation, and the development of alternative sources of energy.
Pelosi, however, refuses to even allow a vote on expanded domestic oil drilling. She and other Democrats say oil companies should drill on the 68 million acres they already control -- an argument dismissed by the oil companies, who say they already stand to forfeit any leases they fail to develop within a set period of time.
House Democrats also are pressing for new investments in renewable energy, increasing vehicle fuel efficiency standards, making mass transit more affordable, cracking down on price gouging, and releasing oil from the government's stockpile.
As for complaints about the do-nothing Congress, Pelosi on Monday said Democrats are “aggressively addressing the range of economic issues confronting American families.”
In the past few weeks, she noted, Democrats have “protected homeowners from foreclosure, invested in college affordability, ensured (that) women receive equal pay for equal work, protected our children from toxic toys and products, and made another historic investment in veterans care.
“Democrats are producing and passing real economic solutions for the American people," Pelosi said.
Oh no they’re not, Republicans say.
Republicans insist the most pressing issue for Americans is the high cost of gasoline, so rather than leave Washington for five weeks, House Republicans are demanding that Pelosi call Congress back into session to vote on domestic oil drilling legislation.
On Friday, as soon as the House was adjourned, Republican lawmakers took over the chamber, protesting the Democrats’ decision to go on a five-week recesss without doing anything about high energy prices.
The protest continued on Monday. House Republicans took turns speaking on the House floor to members of the public – many wearing tank tops, t-shirts and shorts. Tourists were invited to sit in seats normally reserved for Congressmen.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) told CNSNews.com that he has not heard from Pelosi since Republicans began the stand-in on the House floor. He said he was not sure how many more days Republicans would continue speaking.
“We just kind of made this up at about 11:20 on Friday,” he said.
Pence and others resumed speaking on Monday and ended for the day shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), said on the floor that “to see citizens on the floor of the House – the people’s House – warms my heart.” He asked members of the public to be an “echo chamber” for the Republicans’ cause, drawing applause from the audience.
“I hope this sends a strong message that the American public is starting to feel like they’re being energized, that they’re being given a sounding board, that they’re becoming an echo chamber for their own point of view and that there are some people that are speaking to their issues and voicing their concerns,” he told CNSNews.com later.
The positive response from the public was “the most encouraging aspect” of the Republican stand-in, Pence told CNSNews.com.
“My hope is that as we stay consistent and focused and provide a respectful debate on the floor of the Congress that more Americans will see that there are members of Congress that want to be working and are ready to role our sleeves up and achieve a bipartisan compromise that includes conservation, new technologies, fuel efficiency and more drilling,” he said.
“This is not partisan-driven,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said about the Republican decision to remain on Capitol Hill. “It’s about America.”