GOP Floor Protest, Take Two

Posted September 11, 2008 at 4:45pm

Correction Appended

Not convinced that Democratic leaders adjourned early for the week over concerns about regions threatened by Hurricane Ike, House Republicans are vowing to stay in the darkened chamber Thursday evening and all day Friday to protest Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) refusal to vote this week on offshore drilling.

A GOP aide said members of the Texas delegation will return to their districts in preparation of Hurricane Ike. Beyond that, many Republicans will remain, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.).

Boehner will lead a press conference Friday morning. Republicans likely will accuse Democrats of leaving early for the week to stall for time before dropping their energy package. Their proposal continues to be delayed over provisions relating to drilling.

Democratic leaders “can quote a hurricane, but this has nothing to do with a hurricane,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said. “They’re running out the clock [on a drilling vote]. Nothing more.”

Republicans complained that, as a result of Thursday’s session being cut short, they were not able to proceed with one-minute floor speeches. Nearly a dozen Members stayed behind in the chamber to demand a chance to be heard, despite lacking microphones, light and television cameras,

Other Members lingering in the chamber Thursday evening included Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

Pelosi “may turn off the electricity, but freedom will reign,” Bachmann said. “She’s going to have to pull us out of here by our ankles because we’re going to be screaming the voice of freedom.”

Democratic leaders dismissed the move as a partisan stunt.

“With a hurricane bearing down on the Texas coast and on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this is hardly the time for partisan game playing,” said Stacey Farnen Bernards, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

“Democrats will bring forward a comprehensive energy bill next week that expands responsible domestic drilling while making one of the largest investments ever in renewable energy. … The American people are watching to see if Republicans will join us in supporting it or continue playing games,” Bernards said.

Correction: Sept. 18, 2008

An earlier version of this article misidentified Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and attributed a quote from her to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).