Gas Wars

Posted April 22, 2008 at 6:57pm

Republican and Democratic House leaders sent dueling letters Tuesday, sparring over which end of Pennsylvania Avenue is more committed to providing consumers relief from high gas prices.

House Republicans began by firing off a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), calling on her to produce her plan for lower gas prices.

[IMGCAP(1)]“It was two years ago this week, on April 24, 2006, when you pledged that ‘Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices,’” the leaders wrote. “Yet 15 months into the 110th Congress, you have yet to reveal this ‘commonsense plan.’”

Pelosi, meanwhile, sent her own letter to President Bush imploring him to work with Congress on passing four pieces of energy-related legislation.

“I respectfully ask you again to work with the Congress to allow the Justice Department to pursue oil cartel price- fixing, allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to investigate and punish price gougers, end taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil and invest those funds in renewable American energy,” Pelosi wrote. “Lastly, your Administration must use the authority given to it by the Congress to end market manipulation.”

Reversing Course. Turns out the National Association of Manufacturers will be making its membership list public after all — at least those members who contribute more than $5,000 per quarter and actively participate in shaping its lobbying strategy.

NAM has been huffing about the alleged unconstitutionality of this requirement ever since it was passed as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. That act aims, among other things, to force lobbying groups to name their active members who make significant financial contributions.

In February, NAM went to court, seeking to have the provision declared unconstitutional. But a district judge threw out the group’s challenge on April 11. (NAM has since appealed that ruling.)

That left precious little time before the April 21 filing deadline. So NAM asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for a temporary injunction against the provision’s enforcement. She said no, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court, which turned NAM down on Monday night.

Earlier on Monday, NAM had filed its quarterly report, but left unanswered the membership question. On Tuesday, after the Supreme Court denied its stay request, it changed its tune.

In a press release, NAM President John Engler said the group would file an amended return including the information.

NAM filed a motion Tuesday before the federal appeals court seeking an expedited review of its challenge to the law.

— Lauren W. Whittington and T.R. Goldman