Boehner Calls Blue Dog Bluff

Posted: Aug 05, 2008 4:55 PM
Boehner Calls Blue Dog Bluff

House Minority Leader Republican John Boehner (R.-Ohio) is calling on rank and file House Democrats to defy Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and join the GOP to force a stand alone vote on offshore drilling.

After a contentious weekend with the GOP over energy, Politico reported Monday that Pelosi had indicated to some Democrats that they should position themselves as pro-drilling if it would help them win upcoming election races.

Boehner told those Democrats to “put it in writing.”

“If you aren’t willing to put it in writing, you’re fooling no one,” Boehner said. “You’re siding with the Speaker of the Drill-Nothing Congress and radical special interests that favor higher gas prices at the expense of energy-strapped American families.”

The GOP believes there are enough moderate Democrats and conservative Democrats, commonly called Blue Dogs, who would vote with Republicans to pass a bill to expand the domestic energy supply through offshore drilling if Democratic leadership would schedule the vote. Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) said “We are absolutely confident” such a bill would pass with bipartisan support in a press conference Monday.

Under House rules, Pelosi is required to schedule legislation for a vote if 218 members more sign a document called a “discharge petition” to support a vote on it. 106 House members have signed the latest discharge petition. Their names are available here.

Although the House of Representatives was technically closed for a month-long recess Friday, House Republicans have stayed in Washington to pressure Pelosi to call the House back to order to work on energy legislation.

The Speaker unceremoniously adjourned last week amid loud cries from the GOP who wanted to end the day with routine, 5 minute speeches. Most of Republicans were planning to use the time to criticize Pelosi for letting the House go into recess without doing anything to increase the domestic energy supply.

Rather than let the Republicans do that, Pelosi unexpectedly turned off their microphones, ordered CPSAN cameras to shut down and dimmed the House’s lights. Rather than go home, a cabal of Republicans refused to leave and spoke to visiting tourists about gas prices from the darkened House floor.

Republican will continue their protest this week and possibly the month, although the House is technically closed.

Pelosi dismissed the Republican’s desire for a vote on drilling Sunday in an interview on ABC with George Stephanopoulos. He asked her “Why not give a straight up or down vote on drilling?”

Pelosi said drilling “was a decoy” and that Republicans were conducting “a war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies.” She added “we have a planet to save” and insisted she would not allow a vote on offshore drilling. Against Stephanopoulos asked her “why can’t they have a vote?”

“They’ll have to use their imagination as to how they can get a vote,” she replied.