GOP Pans Democratic Energy Bill

Posted September 12, 2008 at 12:12pm

House GOP leaders continued their assault Friday on Democrats for failing to advance an energy bill this week and questioned whether they have any intention of doing so.

This week, Democratic leaders “wasted time doing a lot of suspensions and not dealing with this issue,” Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

Boehner said he was “somewhat pleased” that Democrats appear to be “coming our way” by allowing for some offshore drilling in their energy proposal.

However, their still-developing bill “looks like a hoax” if it doesn’t provide incentives to states to proceed with drilling on their shores, Boehner said.

Democrats spent the week working out kinks in their energy plan, which could hit the floor as early as Tuesday.

The heart of their proposal would allow coastal states to decide whether to opt in for drilling. Because states would not be allowed to share in those revenues, Republicans say states won’t participate and no new energy will come online.

“I’m not sure there’s any real intention to get a bill that could be signed into the law,” Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

Blunt said secondhand sources have told him that Democratic leaders are reassuring their Members not to worry about new drilling ever taking place.

According to his sources, top Democrats are telling their Members, “Look, this is never going to happen, so it’s better than a moratorium,” Blunt said. “It looks like we’re allowing something that we’re not allowing.”

Democratic leaders again dismissed the GOP attacks as partisan play.

“Republicans have a clear choice: They can join with Democrats in supporting comprehensive energy legislation to help American taxpayers and consumers or they can side with Big Oil and continue their ‘drill-only’ talkathon,” said Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Democrats have brought forward a strong compromise energy bill and we urge Republicans to join us to create good paying American jobs and increase our energy independence,” Hammill said.

A band of Republicans continued its energy protest, albeit in the dark and without microphones. Their protest is expected to continue into the afternoon.

About 80 tourists sat in Members’ seats as Republicans including Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.) touted their energy proposal, which seeks far more extensive drilling than Democrats will support.