Boehner Blasts Democratic Energy Bill as a ‘Joke’

Posted July 24, 2008 at 1:02pm

With House Democratic leaders lining up a Thursday vote on another energy bill on the suspension calendar, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted the majority for being “scared to death” to allow “a real debate” on drilling to reach the floor.

“We’ve got eight days before the August recess, and the Democrat majority here in Congress is putting another bill on the floor masquerading as an energy bill,” said Boehner.

The bill being taken up Thursday, under limited debate and with no amendments, seeks to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to bring down gas prices in the short-term. Democrats contend the bill could have an effect on gas prices in as soon as 13 days.

But Boehner called the bill “a joke” because it won’t lead to the production of more American-made energy. It is also unlikely to pass as it needs a two-thirds majority under suspension of the rules, which translates into some Republican support.

“This is not an energy bill,” Boehner said. “All these so-called energy bills they have, they bring them up on suspension. Why? Because there’s no opportunity for Republicans to offer an amendment or to offer a motion to recommit.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) deflected questions about whether Democratic leaders are bringing up energy bills under suspension to avoid GOP amendments on offshore drilling.

Today’s petroleum reserve bill, as with recent energy bills, is coming up on suspension to allow Democrats “to have a discrete vote on those discrete initiatives, which we believe are the direction that our country should go in,” said Pelosi.

Asked why Democratic leaders are taking the petroleum bill up on suspension when they know it will fall short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass, Pelosi said, “Who says it’s going to die?”

When it was suggested that Republicans will block the bill, the Speaker replied, “Well, we’ll take one step at a time.”

Pelosi seemed unconcerned at the suggestion that some in her own party may be in favor of holding a vote on offshore drilling just to ease mounting partisan tensions.

“That’s interesting. That’s my response,” said the Speaker.

Pelosi conceded that recent polls have shown that Americans, by a two-to-one margin, support drilling if it brings down the price at the pump. But also by a two-to-one margin, they support investments in renewable energy resources, she said.

Democrats “will not be knocked off our course,” said the Speaker.