Without the usual summer jump in gas prices, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is now pitching his energy package as a jobs bill.
With gas prices soaring and Democrats in control of the House, Republicans staged a public “protest” against then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to send lawmakers home for the August recess. For several days, Republicans conducted “sit-ins” on the House floor, giving speeches on gas prices and causing a public spectacle.
The effort worked, swinging public support behind the GOP and its calls for an “all of the above” strategy to energy.
Of course, when gas prices dropped in September, the issue quickly evaporated, as did any gains Republicans had seen.
This year, however, is significantly different. Gas prices appear to have peaked earlier in the spring and have been on the decline ever since. At the same time, anxiety over the economy has worsened, particularly in the wake of last week’s jobs report.
Combined with persistent complaints about energy prices and polling indicating it remains a chronic concern for voters, Republicans believe tying it to their broader economic attacks on the White House is a winning strategy.
“Last Friday’s abysmal employment report should be a wake-up call to the president and Senate Democrats. They cannot continue to sit on their hands while 13 million Americans remain out of work,” McCarthy said Tuesday, arguing that his bill “will help job creators in the energy industry invest more in American-made energy and American-made jobs.”
Given the politically toxic atmosphere in Congress and the difficult nature of energy legislation, short of a major spike in energy prices later this summer, it appears unlikely the legislation will make it much further than the House floor. Still, McCarthy will bring the legislation up this month and insisted lawmakers can find common ground.“By working together, we can ... help put our country back on the road to recovery by creating jobs and growing our economy,” McCarthy said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.