At the Capitol on Friday, the GOP congressmen gathered at a breakfast hosted by the conservative Americans for Tax Reform to brief members of the press on the progress of the protests.
But leaders of the so-called “Shadow Congress” demonstrations also told CNSNews.com they don’t know of any Democrats who plan to break party lines at this time.
“This is my message to my House Democratic colleagues: We know that a number of them are with us,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). “We are going to call on them today to cross that picket line to take a stand in their district and publicly call on the Speaker of the House to bring this Congress back. And I say to them, ‘Come to this floor and let’s make this demonstration bipartisan.’ ”
Pence said Republicans would stand up and cheer if a Democrat decided to come to the House floor.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said he also knows of many members who are pro-drilling, whom he would like to see join the protest.
“I am confident that right this minute there are at least 50 Democrats who would vote for an energy bill. They would go for offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 50 miles out,” said Goodlatte.
“Let me just add that I know for a fact there are at least 15 or 20 congressmen who are dying, just dying to get it [a drilling bill] on the floor. There are others who are just frothing at the mouth because they can’t get a vote on the floor.”
Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) also said he believes there is enough bipartisan support to pass a drilling bill.
“We have a bipartisan majority for a first time in years that would support more drilling. That’s why we are doing this,” said Burton.
The GOP leaders, however, said they are unaware of any Democrats who have told them they would buck the Democratic leadership’s policy against drilling.
When CNSNews.com asked Pence if he knew of any Democrats who were actively considering crossing party lines, he shook his head. Burton agreed.
“My perception I am not aware of aware of a single House Democrat, who has either expressed publicly into her district that the speaker should call a special session back or has indicated any interest at all in coming back to Capitol Hill,” Burton told CNSNews.com.
Republicans finished their 6th day of “Shadow Congress” at around 4 p.m. Friday.
Congress imposed its moratorium on offshore drilling in 1981 and has extended it annually since then for all coastal waters, except for parts of the Gulf of Mexico and some waters off the coast of Alaska.
In July, President Bush lifted the presidential ban on offshore drilling that was put into place by his father George H.W. Bush in 1990 and sustained by President Bill Clinton.
Bush’s gesture was largely symbolic, however, since the congressional moratorium on offshore oil drilling has not been lifted.
Politico.com reported on Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – who strongly opposes expanded domestic oil drilling – has encouraged rank-and-file Democrats to support increased drilling if they believe it will help them win their elections in November.