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GOP Takes Over House Floor in Drilling Protest

7 years ago
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The House officially adjourned for the five-week August recess today, but that did not stop Republicans from making their point about opening up oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. The House GOP had been pressuring Democratic leaders to hold a vote on offshore drilling before the recess, and with the help of 17 Democrat members came within one vote of defeating the motion to adjourn. Today, Republicans took their protests directly to the floor of the House, refusing to leave the chamber after it adjourned, and continuing to make their speeches.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded by turning off the lights, cameras, and microphones in the House chamber. But Republicans were undeterred. They spoke through megaphones in the dark, brought visitors from the House gallery down to the floor, and chanted, "Work, work, work!" as the event began to take on the feel of a revolt. Republican leaders couched their actions in exactly those terms.

Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) called the action, "the new Boston Tea Party." Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) said, "This is the people's House. This is not Pelosi's politiburo." Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) implored those watching from the gallery, "Tell your friends the Republicans refuse to go quietly!" adding that he would not leave until, "we call this Congress back into session and vote for energy independence." House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called the event historic.
"The historic event that unfolded today on the floor of the People's House was about more than gas prices. We witnessed the power of American democracy in action. Dozens of House Republicans joined hundreds of American citizens on the House floor to protest Speaker Pelosi's decision to send Congress home for the rest of the summer without voting for more American-made energy and lower gas prices.

Today, House Republicans and the American people stood side by side to make history together. We sent a powerful message to Speaker Pelosi, Senators Reid and Obama, and other top Democrats that we will not rest until they allow a vote for more American energy and lower gas prices...House Republicans and the American people showed today that we will stand united together on the most important issue facing our nation – and we will fight boldly until Congress finally heeds our will."

House Democrats were caught completely off guard by the Republican revolt, angrily kicking reporters out of the Speaker's Lobby and demanding that the event receive no press coverage. But the effects of today's action by Republicans will be felt in districts all month long, as Democrats have to explain to their constituents why they would not at least allow a vote on drilling. Republicans said that they would be pleased enough with the political pressure that the issue will place on their adversaries, but they would rather have had the vote instead.

Today's demonstration by the House GOP shows that the minority party, all but counted for dead in the November elections, is not going to go down without a fight. With gas prices topping $4 a gallon for the first time, overwhelming majorities of Americans support increasing American production of oil in the hopes of reducing prices at the pump. Democrats will have to hold a vote on the issue sooner or later. When large majorities of the American people demand an action from their elected officials, they usually get their way.

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