Prior to leaving Washington, D.C. for the Independence Day district work period, I promised Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democratic leaders that my Republican colleagues and I would be right back on the House floor on July 8, fighting for a vote on our “all of the above” plan to increase American energy production, encourage more efficiency and conservation, and promote the use of alternative fuels and biofuels. I spent the first part of this Fourth of July week in Washington state with my GOP colleagues Reps. Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Dave Reichert, and what we heard from their constituents has made us even more eager to resume the fight next week on Capitol Hill.
Residents of Washington state are paying the third highest gas prices in the continental United States, according to AAA – trailing only Speaker Pelosi’s home state of California and Connecticut. Make no mistake; prices are soaring no matter where we drive our cars these days. Prices at the gas station in Ohio where my family usually fills up climbed above $4.00 per gallon over the last couple of weeks, but to see gas prices surge toward $4.40 in Seattle and Spokane really reinforced the depth of this crisis. And as you might expect, it dominated the conversations I had during my visit to the Northwest.
Those I spoke with in Bellevue, Spokane, and Pasco were really struck by the Democratic leadership’s consistent defiance of the American people on this issue. Poll after poll shows strong support for more energy production here in the United States in order to help lower gas prices. We have vast resources that can be explored in an environmentally-safe way in Alaska, the Rockies, and far off our coasts. And the American people overwhelmingly favor doing just that. Even self-described liberals, according to a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this week, are now moving in the direction of more American energy.
But the Democrats in charge of Congress are turning a deaf ear to these calls. While even a growing number of liberals now recognize the need for unlocking America’s natural energy resources, Democratic leaders are proving themselves to be to the Left of the Left. Indeed, Speaker Pelosi and her allies have been worshipping at the altar of radical environmentalism since well before I got to Congress back in 1991. Since then, the Speaker and I have had the opportunity to cast 46 votes to increase the production of American energy. I was proud to cast the “pro-energy” vote all 46 times. The Speaker, in contrast, did so all of two times.
The real ramifications of those votes never really came into focus until the past 18 months of Democratic control in Congress, during which gas prices have risen by a whopping 75 percent. But trust me, the impact of the Speaker’s votes and the Democratic Party’s year-after-year refusal to allow for more energy production on federal lands and far off our shores was completely evident to the men and women I met in Washington state earlier this week. I heard about families who were readjusting their travel plans. Vacations that were being reconsidered. And business owners who were forced to make difficult and seemingly impossible decisions because of the energy costs they are facing on a daily basis.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The fact is, our nation has ample resources to put more American oil and gas into our supply lines and show the rest of the world that we are serious about energy independence and lower gasoline prices. We had those resources over a decade ago too, when President Clinton was presented legislation that would have opened up a small patch of the arctic coastal plain for environmentally-safe oil exploration – exploration that would have put one million additional barrels of oil into the market today. But, just as the Democratic Congress is stonewalling more American energy today, so too did President Clinton block it – with his veto pen – back then.
Families and small businesses in Washington state and everywhere else are fed up. And they want action now. Americans have spoken loudly and clearly in support of more American energy production and lower gas prices. Now it is time for Congress to finally heed those calls.
Republicans will be at the forefront of this fight in the weeks to come, and I urge you to join us as well. Call your Members of Congress, and ask them to support the House GOP’s “all of the above” plan. This is a fight that will continue all summer long and into the fall until the Democrats relent and allow votes on meaningful energy solutions. But on behalf of all Americans struggling with high prices at the pump, it is a fight worth having.