The House on Friday adjourned for the month-long August recess, but some Republicans have opted to stick around town to score political points in the absence of any Democrats. Continuing their strategy begun last Friday, a small group of GOPers took to the chamber floor again Monday to stage a one-sided debate on the virtues of expanding offshore drilling. It’s a scene you can’t watch on C-Span, which is turned off because the House is in recess. But the Republicans hope the rare spectacle will stir the public to pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) to bring the drilling expansion up for a vote.
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have resisted the push, saying the expansion would have little effect on fuel prices. They accuse Republicans of using the energy crisis to advance a long-held, industry-friendly agenda, even as the oil companies are pulling in record profits.
Supporting the Democrats are the facts of the matter: A year-old analysis from the Energy Information Admin., for example, found that an offshore expansion would have no significant effect on domestic oil production or fuel prices before 2030. Republicans say that’s no reason not to begin more drilling now. But their’s is a dubious strategy in the midst of global warming concerns that have spurred most lawmakers to back a shift to cleaner energy sources for the health of the planet (ie, the humans living on it), not to mention America’s economy.
But public sentiment, even when based on false premises, retains its power to influence lawmakers. (This, of course, makes some sense. We do, after all, still pretend to be a democracy). And new polls reveal that most Americans support offshore drilling expansion, even in places like Florida, where historic opposition to the practice has been widespread. The thorny question for Pelosi and other Democrats could be: Do we bow to the public whim in the face of contradictory facts, or buck the voters’ wishes for the betterment of the country.
You’d think that shouldn’t be difficult to answer, but you’d be forgetting that this is an election year.
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