News over the weekend about the Olympics and Russian-Georgian war kept the focus off the Republican energy revolt, but throngs of visitors packed the House floor again Monday for the seventh day of the protest. About a dozen GOP lawmakers were on hand, including Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Tom Price (R-GA), who spearheaded the uprising on Aug. 1
By some estimates, more than 4,000 people watched the mock House session Friday, one of the busiest days so far. The pace kept was just as busy this morning as people from across America — many dressed in T-shirts and shorts — took advantage of the rare opportunity to sit on the House floor and interact with the Republican lawmakers firsthand. (Find out how to attend.) The day’s highlight came shortly after noon when Pence appeared live on the Rush Limbaugh Show just a few feet from the House floor.
Over one week ago, more than 50 House Republicans took this Hill on behalf of the right of every American to enjoy energy independence. Thanks to the leadership of John Boehner and Roy Blunt and thanks to the sacrifice being made by dozens of members of Congress and their families, we have held this Hill for more than one week. As we continue this historic protest, I invite House Democrats who support domestic drilling to join us on the House floor.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, will be interviewed by Larry King at 9 p.m. ET on CNN about her refusal to bring lawmakers back to Washington from their five-week paid vacation to deal with the high cost of energy. The fact the story is still penetrating the mainstream media, particularly in their districts back home, has buoyed Republicans. They plan to remain in Washington until Aug. 22, just before the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) returned to Washington for the first time since recess began to make the case for more energy production. Brady ushered visitors up and down the aisles of the House floor, passing out information on the American Energy Act, and all-of-the-above plan that promotes exploration, conservation and innovation. Brady used his time on the floor to respond to Pelosi’s Top Ten Questions for the House GOP on Energy. (The Foundry did the same last week.)
Republicans have maintained that they would win a vote on offshore drilling and other forms of energy production if Pelosi allowed one. But fearing that Democrats would defect, she has resisted.
A showdown appears likely, however, due to the Sept. 30 expiration of the drilling ban on the Outer Continental Shelf. With 50 days remaining until the ban expires, conservatives have begun calling Oct. 1 Energy Freedom Day. Heritage’s Ben Lieberman writes in a new paper:
The clock is ticking on the congressional moratorium on access to billions of barrels of domestic oil beneath American waters. President Bush already rescinded the White House prohibitions on access to this energy, so the congressional restrictions are the only thing standing between 19 billion barrels of additional domestic oil and the citizens who need it. If Congress does not act to renew these outdated, anti-energy, and anti-consumer restrictions, these areas will be opened to exploration and drilling beginning on October 1. Some are calling this Energy Freedom Day, and it would be a welcome and long overdue step toward dealing with high gasoline prices.
For updates from the U.S. House floor throughout the week, follow my Twitter feed. I’ve been there from the start and hope to make it each and every day this week.