Boehner, Obey Tussle Over Drilling

Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:03pm

The House’s top appropriator and GOP leader traded barbs on Thursday after Republicans attempted to inject debate on oil drilling into an Appropriations Committee markup.

Both parties have been bickering for weeks about the best way to try to reduce gas prices, with Republicans pushing offshore drilling and Democrats targeting energy speculation and price gouging.

The Appropriations panel was meeting Thursday to mark up the Labor-Health and Human Services spending bill when ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) brought forward another appropriations bill, the Interior bill, in an effort to debate amendments relating to offshore drilling and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) abruptly adjourned the hearing. For now, the Labor-HHS spending bill has not been rescheduled for a markup.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was quick to bash Obey for refusing to allow a vote on energy reforms that Republicans say will help to lower gas prices.

“Chairman Obey shut down the debate rather than allow the votes to occur,” Boehner said. “Democratic leaders are too beholden to radical environmentalists, who want gas prices to rise even more, to allow a vote — any vote — on proposals that would actually make a difference.”

But the top Democratic appropriator seemed unfazed by the partisan attack.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that Dave Obey has no patience for B.S.,” Obey spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said.

Brost blasted GOP Members for pulling a stunt during the Labor-HHS markup when the Interior bill is already scheduled for a markup on July 9, at which point committee members can have “a real debate and real votes on issues in that bill.”

“Today’s plan by Republicans to tie the committee in knots with a series of unrelated amendments was just another political stunt, the kind the American people have come to despise. It is B.S. and Obey won’t put up with it.”