House GOP Revolt: Day II

As I write this, House Republican members are carrying on about gas prices again in the darkened House chamber.

Representative Mike Culbertson is covering it for the
rest of us on Qikking. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is standing firm; no break in the recess and no vote on drilling:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday ruled out a vote on new offshore oil drilling even as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he might be open to a compromise that included it.

The scramble over expanded drilling off America's coasts - ammunition for a weekend of rat-a-tat-tat by the presidential campaigns - underscores the political power of $4-a-gallon gas. Though President Bush and other backers of new drilling acknowledge it wouldn't directly affect gas prices for years, they have pounded Democrats for opposing the measure, which is now supported by most Americans.

Today's protest, while a little more subdued than the electrifying events of Friday, nevertheless show the determination of the GOP to bring the drilling issue to a vote now:

While Friday's session had all the passion of a revival meeting, with members jumping off airplanes and rushing back to the House floor to thunderous applause, it was a more subdued affair on Monday morning.

The House floor was sparsely populated with members and staff, with a steady stream of tourists flowing through the public viewing galleries.

A GOP leadership aide said 21 members had committed to attending on Monday, with more expected to follow throughout the week.

Republicans held to tradition to open their mock-session, with Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) leading an opening prayer and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) leading the pledge of allegiance.

President Bush has the authority to call the Congress back into session in order to deal with the energy crunch. Harry Truman played that game to great effect in the 1948 election when he called the Republican Congress into session only to see them do nothing. He then ran against the "do nothing Congress" and the rest is history.

Would Bush choose that option? Frankly it would be a gamble. There are so many vulnerable Republicans this year that taking them away from politiking at home, mending fences and trying to overcome a decided Democratic advantage in many districts, that not all GOP members are as keen to actually come back into session as one might think. This five week period is prime time for many of these members and calling them back for a couple of weeks (which might end up being a useless exercise because Bush can't make Pelosi bring the drilling legislation up for a vote) would endanger their chances for re-election.

No matter. The GOP has the right attitude toward this issue and are letting the American people see who the leaders are and who are the obstructionists. That alone is worth losing a little vacation time over.

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